Cultural Competency Issues

What is cultural competence?

Cultural Competence is a set of academic and personal skills that allow us to increase our understanding and appreciation of cultural differences between groups. However, a lack of understanding and appreciation of these cultural differences impacts how health care is delivered, therefore leading to health disparities among minorities (Orlandi, M., Weston, R. and Epstein, L.G. Eds, 1992).

The Office of Cultural Diversity and Enrichment

The Office of Cultural Diversity and Enrichment was created in March 2001 to help address the public health needs of minorities in Indiana in order to reduce major barriers leading to disparities. It has been documented that healthcare disparities among minority populations are at epidemic proportions compared to non-minority populations across the State of Indiana. In fact, the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) recognized that there was a need to place a stronger emphasis on cultural competency for all health care professionals and ISDH funded programs to address the health needs of minorities.

Cultural Competence Workshops

In order to address these needs the Office of Cultural Diversity and Enrichment offers a two- (2) day Cultural Competence Workshop once a month. The Cultural Competence workshops emphasize cultural knowledge and cultural differences, strategies for working with racial/ethnic populations, the principles of interpreter services, and discussion of four different cultures (African American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaskan Native). For those health care professionals who have attended the two-day workshop a 1-day Advanced Cultural Competency Workshop is offered once a month. This workshop is to: expand knowledge of the general characteristics of culture/ethnic groups in the U.S. (including religious groups, e.g. Muslims, and persons with disabilities), and to develop techniques for understanding each client as a unique person within his or her ethnic and racial heritage. Over 1500 health care professionals have attended and participated in these workshops. The Office of Cultural Diversity and Enrichment puts forth the educational efforts so that health care professionals will have more acceptance of and respect for differences, a continuing self-assessment, and growing fund of knowledge related to minority health continuity. Furthermore, through education, policies and programs one can incorporate concerns, and provide effective services for all minority populations.

The Manual for Health Care Providers

The Manual for Health Care Providers is offered with basic greetings and general information, risk factors and general instructions in English and Spanish.

Helpful link

A very helpful link may be found at

For more information please call the Indiana State Department of Health, Office of Cultural Diversity and Enrichment at 233-1336 or 233-1383.