Cultural competency has become an essential part of healthcare nowadays as the world advances into a global village. The need to offer quality healthcare services regardless of the differences in culture and language are increasing, which prompted U.S. healthcare institutions to search for ways to address these disparities and deliver equitable healthcare services to the underserved communities. This article explores whether cultural competency in healthcare is required by law.

Understanding Cultural Competence in Healthcare

Cultural competency refers to the ability of healthcare providers to understand, appreciate, and respect cultural diversity. It entails developing strategies to improve the interactions between healthcare providers and patients from diverse cultural backgrounds. Cultural competence focuses on delivering patient-centered care that matches the cultural and linguistic needs of patients. Cultural competence is essential in healthcare as it reduces healthcare disparities among different groups. It helps to improve the patient’s health outcomes, healthcare satisfaction and promotes positive patient experiences.

Legislation on Cultural Competency in Healthcare

The Office of Minority Health (OMH) recommends that healthcare institutions should develop culturally and linguistically appropriate services (CLAS) to enhance the delivery of healthcare services to diverse populations. Additionally, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires that healthcare providers should offer patient-centered services that focus on addressing social determinants of health, which include culture and language. The ACA has provisions that recognize the importance of cultural competence in healthcare and recommends the provision of services that are in line with the cultural and linguistic needs of patients.

Benefits of Cultural Competence in Healthcare

Cultural competence is beneficial to healthcare providers, patients, and healthcare systems. It helps to reduce healthcare disparities among different cultural and linguistic groups. Healthcare providers who are culturally competent can better understand the unique needs of patients from diverse communities, which leads to improved communication, trust, and satisfaction. Cultural competence helps to bridge the gap between healthcare providers and patients resulting in better healthcare access and outcomes. Additionally, evidence suggests that cultural competence leads to improved healthcare decision-making and an overall reduction in healthcare costs.

Barriers to Culturally Competent Care

There are several barriers to providing culturally competent care. A common challenge is the lack of training among healthcare providers in cultural competence. Healthcare providers may lack the cultural sensitivity required to provide quality care to patients from diverse backgrounds. Other barriers include language barriers, communication difficulties, and cultural stereotyping. Additionally, there may be institutional barriers such as inadequate resources, lack of support from the management and inflexible policies.


In conclusion, cultural competence in healthcare is essential to the provision of quality healthcare services. Although there are no specific laws mandating cultural competency by healthcare providers, several regulations and guidelines recommend the integration of culturally and linguistically appropriate services in healthcare. Efforts to enhance cultural competence in healthcare should be institutionalized and should involve the cooperation of all healthcare stakeholders, including healthcare providers, patients, and healthcare management. The goal should be to improve healthcare access and outcomes while addressing healthcare disparities among diverse cultural groups.

Semantic keywords: Cultural competency, healthcare, legislation, barriers, healthcare disparities, patient-centered care, language barriers, healthcare access, healthcare outcomes.


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