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J Contin Educ Health Prof. 2011 Summer;31(3):196-206. doi: 10.1002/chp.20127.

Educating clinicians about cultural competence and disparities in health and health care.

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Center for Healthy Families and Cultural Diversity, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, NJ 08903, USA.


An extensive body of literature has documented significant racial and ethnic disparities in health and health care. Cultural competency interventions, including the training of physicians and other health care professionals, have been proposed as a key strategy for helping to reduce these disparities. The continuing medical education (CME) profession can play an important role in addressing this need by improving the quality and assessing the outcomes of multicultural education programs. This article provides an overview of health care policy, legislative, accreditation, and professional initiatives relating to these subjects. The status of CME offerings on cultural competence/disparities is reviewed, with examples provided of available curricular resources and online courses. Critiques of cultural competence training and selected studies of its effectiveness are discussed. The need for the CME profession to become more culturally competent in its development, implementation, and evaluation of education programs is examined. Future challenges and opportunities are described, and a call for leadership and action is issued.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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