Drivers of continued implementation of cultural competence in substance use disorder treatment

J Subst Abuse Treat. 2019 Oct;105:5-11. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2019.07.009. Epub 2019 Jul 24.


The purpose of this study was to examine whether the key characteristics of organizational decision makers predicted continued implementation of five different practices that represent organizational cultural competence in one of the largest and most diverse substance use disorder (SUD) treatment systems in the United States. We analyzed data collected from SUD treatment programs at four-time points: 2011 (N = 115), 2013 (N = 111), 2015 (N = 106), and 2017 (N = 94). We conducted five mixed-effect linear regression models, one per each outcome to examine the extent to which program director's transformational leadership and ethnic background (Latino) predicted (1) knowledge of minority community needs; (2) development of resources and linkages to serve minorities; (3) reaching out to minority communities; (4) hiring and retention of staff members from minority backgrounds; and (5) development of policies and procedures to effectively respond to the service needs of minority patients. Results show that two of the five practices continued implementation at same degree (resources and linkages and policies and procedures), one practice increased degree of implementation (knowledge), while two practices reduced degree of implementation (staffing and outreach to communities) over the six-year period. Directorial leadership was positively associated with the continued implementation of all five practices. Latino directors were associated with an increase in knowledge of minority communities, but a decrease in resources and linkages and policies and procedures to serve minorities. On the other hand, interactions showed that leadership among Latino directors increased staffing over time and led to increases in resources and linkages and policies and procedures overtime. Overall, continued implementation of culturally responsive practices was uneven in the SUD treatment system studied. But program directors' transformational leadership and ethnic background played a critical role in increasing the implementation of key practices over time. Findings have implications for developing and testing culturally grounded leadership interventions for program directors to ensure the continued and increased implementation of practices that are necessary to improve standards of care in minority health.

Keywords: Cultural competence; Health care; Implementation; Leadership.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cultural Competency*
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Health Plan Implementation*
  • Health Resources
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Leadership*
  • Male
  • Minority Groups*
  • Models, Organizational
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy*
  • United States