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Advances in Nursing Science:
doi: 10.1097/01.ANS.0000311526.27823.05
Original Article

Of Goldfish Tanks and Moonlight Tricks: Can Cultural Competency Ameliorate Health Disparities?

Drevdahl, Denise J. PhD; Canales, Mary K. PhD; Dorcy, Kathleen Shannon MN

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Abstract

Within nursing, cultural competency is seen as an important mechanism for reducing racial and ethnic health disparities; however, after years of attempted implementation of “cultural competence,” minimal evidence exists demonstrating a relationship between culturally competent interventions and improved health outcomes or reduced disparities. We examine how cultural competency as an intervention for tackling health disparities is undertheorized and misguided, and deflects attention and efforts needed to address broader social determinants of health. We provide a historical overview of cultural competency, critiques of the concept, and recommendations for moving beyond cultural competency as a means of diminishing health disparities.

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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