What should we include in a cultural competence curriculum? An emerging formative evaluation process to foster curriculum development

Acad Med. 2011 Mar;86(3):333-41. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3182087314.


Purpose: To identify, prioritize, and organize components of a cultural competence curriculum to address disparities in cardiovascular disease.

Method: In 2006, four separate nominal group technique sessions were conducted with medical students, residents, community physicians, and academic physicians to generate and prioritize a list of concepts (i.e., ideas) to include in a curriculum. Afterward, 45 educators and researchers organized and prioritized the concepts using a card-sorting exercise. Multidimensional scaling (MDS) and hierarchical cluster analysis produced homogeneous groupings of related concepts and generated a cognitive map. The main outcome measures were the number of cultural competence concepts, their relative ranks, and the cognitive map.

Results: Thirty participants generated 61 concepts; 29 were identified by at least two participants. The cognitive map organized concepts into four clusters, interpreted as (1) patient's cultural background (e.g., information on cultures, habits, values), (2) provider and health care (e.g., clinical skills, awareness of one's bias, patient centeredness, professionalism), communication skills (e.g., history, stereotype avoidance, health disparities epidemiology), (3) cross-culture (e.g., idiomatic expressions, examples of effective communication), and (4) resources to manage cultural diversity (e.g., translator guides, instructions, community resources). The MDS two-dimensional solution demonstrated a good fit (stress = 0.07; R² = 0.97).

Conclusions: A novel, combined approach allowed stakeholders' inputs to identify and cognitively organize critical domains used to guide development of a cultural competence curriculum. Educators may use this approach to develop and organize educational content for their target audiences, especially in ill-defined areas like cultural competence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Clinical Competence
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Computer-Assisted Instruction*
  • Cultural Competency / education*
  • Curriculum*
  • Education, Distance / organization & administration*
  • Healthcare Disparities
  • Humans
  • Needs Assessment
  • Program Development*