At A Glance
Cultural background—customs, beliefs, values, and institutions for racial and ethnic groups—can influence health. Cultural competency in health care is the ability to deliver the best health care based on understanding of and respect for patients’ cultural backgrounds. The Colorado Black Health Collaborative (CBHC) assessed the cultural competency of medical staff at six Federally Qualified Health Centers in Aurora and Denver that serve 45,000 African Americans and African immigrants. All six committed to offering ongoing competency training.
Public Health Challenge
Some chronic health conditions are more common and severe in African Americans than in other racial and ethnic groups. African Americans are 40% more likely than whites to have high blood pressure and less likely to have it under control, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The rate of diagnosed diabetes is 77% higher among African Americans than whites. When providers do not work together to provide culturally competent care, patients are at higher risk of complications, poor quality of care, or being unhappy with the care they receive. Even in Colorado, which is consistently ranked one of the healthiest states in the nation, high blood pressure and diabetes are more common among African Americans than whites, according to 2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data.
To explore reducing health disparities in Colorado, CBHC formed the Cultural Competency Committee (CCC). Members included community leaders, researchers, and public health practitioners. CCC designed a cultural competency assessment to measure how well doctors, nurses, and medical staff at six Colorado Federally Qualified Health Centers work with African Americans and African immigrants. CCC then met with staff to share the survey results, answer questions, and make recommendations on how to improve culturally competent care. CBHC provided trainings on culturally competent health care to all six Federally Qualified Health Centers.