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Healthcare Providers Should Adopt Principles of Both Patient Centeredness and Cultural Competence to Meet the Needs of All Patients

Patient centeredness and cultural competence are approaches to improving healthcare delivery that have been promoted extensively in recent years. However, as they have gained popularity, considerable ambiguity has evolved in their definition and use across settings. This article explores the evolution of both approaches and discusses their overlapping and distinct contributions to enhancing the quality of healthcare. The primary aim of patient centeredness has been to individualize quality of care, with an emphasis on personal relationships and "customer" service. As such, patient centeredness targets all patients. The primary aim of the cultural competence movement has been to balance quality, improve equity and reduce disparities by improving healthcare for minorities and other disadvantaged patient populations. Because of these different emphases, patient centeredness and cultural competence have targeted different aspects of healthcare delivery, yet there is substantial overlap. Authors suggest that healthcare organizations and providers should adopt principles of both so that services are aligned to meet the needs of all patients. Moreover, health services researchers should develop measures of cultural competence and patient centeredness and explore the impact of their unique and overlapping components on patient outcomes.

PubMed Logo Saha S, Beach M, and Cooper L. Patient centeredness, cultural competence and healthcare quality. Journal of the National Medical Association November 2008;100(11):1275-85.

Dr. Saha was supported by an HSR&D Advanced Research Career Development Award and is part of the Portland VAMC.

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What are HSR&D Publication Briefs?

HSR&D requires notification by HSR&D-funded investigators about all articles accepted for publication. These journal articles are reviewed by HSR&D and publication briefs or summaries are written for a select number of articles that are then forwarded to VHA Central Office leadership to keep them informed about important findings or information. Articles to be summarized are selected by HSR&D based on timeliness of the findings, interest of leadership, or potential impact on the organization. Publication briefs are written for only a small number of HSR&D published articles. Visit the HSR&D citations database for a complete listing of HSR&D articles and presentations.