Culturally adapted health care

Program basics

  • Tailored care to patients’ norms, beliefs, values, language, and literacy skills
  • Can include matching specialists to patients by race or ethnicity; adapting patient materials to reflect patient culture, language, or literacy skills; offering education via community-based health advocates; and incorporating norms about faith, food, family, or self-image into care

Strength of evidence

Evidence level: Proven (highest tier)

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Proven (highest tier)

Ranked as having the highest level of evidence by County Health Rankings and Roadmaps


Target population

Community-wide

Program cost

Not available

Implementation locations

  • Nationwide

Dates active

Not available

Outcomes and impact

  • Improved health outcomes, mental health, and health-related knowledge
  • Improved chronic disease management
  • Increased cancer screening
  • Improved outcomes are strongest for asthma, mental health, diabetes treatment, cancer screening, and smoking cessation

Keys to successful implementation

  • Note: This content is under review
  • Strategies should be developed with the goal of minimizing health disparities across cultures. Understanding the characteristics and nuances of different cultures are necessary in designing a program that minimizes bias in healthcare access and utilization.
  • To ensure high quality strategies, programs should be developed and tested with diverse patients, then revised in response to feedback.
  • Strategies can include well-translated informational materials, the inclusion of cultural elements like food and music, and culturally familiar forms of communication between providers and patients.
  • In developing specific content, providers can leverage cultural values and metaphors, partner with community groups to develop culturally-relevant materials, and work with patient families to understand individual obstacles to care.
  • Adaptations should aim not only to improve patient care but also improve health literacy, the patient navigation experience, case management, and after care.
  • Ensuring that staff is well-trained, culturally competent, and able to make a cultural "match" is critical in fostering trust between patients and healthcare providers.

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