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Providing Care to Diverse Populations

State Educational & Outreach Efforts

To Promote Culturally Competent Health Care Systems


Suganya Sockalingam, Ph.D., Director, Office of Multicultural Health, Oregon Health Division, Department of Human Resources, Portland, OR.

Robert G. Teague, M.S.S.W., Training Specialist, Texas Department of Health, Austin, TX.

Eleanor Devlin, M.P.H., Planning and Development Consultant, Office of Minority Health, South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, Columbia, SC.

Another important way in which States can seek to promote cultural competency is by sponsoring education and training initiatives. This session examined the experience of several States that have sponsored educational initiatives for health departments, service-delivery organizations, and providers.

Suganya Sockalingam, Ph.D., until recently the Director of the Office of Multicultural Health for the State of Oregon, presented information on the cultural-competence training initiatives that have been developed in her State. Oregon has been successful in advocating partnerships with health care agencies, health care providers, educational organizations, and community organizations in an effort to enhance culturally competent care.

Robert Teague, M.S.S.W, from the Texas Department of Health, discussed the Texas training program initiated in 1997 that targeted providers treating patients with HIV. The Texas program was designed to increase support for the delivery of more culturally competent services throughout the State, increase management capabilities to lead a culturally diverse workforce into a managed care environment, and to enhance staff ability to provide services in a culturally competent manner to an increasingly diverse clientele. The objectives of the program were achieved by establishing a set of guiding principles.

The key lessons learned from the development and implementation of the training program include:

  • The critical nature of a good needs assessment.
  • The importance of using a process model rather than an outcomes model for evaluation, because cultural competence is a process, not an event.

Eleanor Devlin, Planning and Development Consultant, spoke about the cultural-competence training program developed for the employees of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). The DHEC integrated the concept of cultural competence into its 1995 strategic plan. This initiative was developed and implemented to enhance the agency's capacity to plan and provide appropriate and acceptable services to its diverse customers. Its primary purpose is to build a culturally competent public health and environmental system that targets services where needed, utilizes community-based approaches, and seeks community and customer input in the development, implementation, administration, and evaluation of programs and services.


State of Oregon, Office of the Governor. Executive Order No. EO-99-07. Racial and Ethnic Health Task Force. Salem, OR: March 1999.

Lecca PJ, Quervalu I, Nunes JV, et al. Cultural Competency in Health, Social, and Human Services Directions for the Twenty-First Century. New York: Garland Publishing, 1998.

Riddick S. Improving Access for Limited English-Speaking Consumers: A Review of Strategies in Health Care Settings. J Health Care Poor Underserved 1998;9 Suppl:S40-S61.

Bayer R. AIDS Prevention and Cultural Sensitivity: Are They Compatible? Am J Public Health 1984 Jun;84(6):895-7.

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