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Role of Cultural Competence in Equitable Health Care and Health Outcomes for Immigrants and Ethnic Minorities in the United States

Authors: Sudarshana Bordoloi*, Minnesota State University-Mankato
Topics: Medical and Health Geography, Immigration/Transnationalism, Global Change
Keywords: Cultural Competence, Geographies of Health, Healthcare Accessibility and Utilization, New Immigrant Geographies
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Traditionally applied to the field of nursing, cultural competency in healthcare has now become an all-encompassing approach applicable to all aspects of healthcare service delivery, particularly those pertaining to racially and ethnically diverse communities, around the world. Cultural competence in healthcare in its simplest form “describes the ability of systems to provide care to patients with diverse values, beliefs and behaviors, including the tailoring of health care delivery to meet patients' social, cultural and linguistic needs” (AHA, 2019). A more nuanced view of cultural competency or lack of its practice can also contribute to a comprehensive understanding of the existence and continuation of the myriad disparities in healthcare accessibility and utilization among immigrants or racially and ethnically diverse communities. This is of significance in the United States with landscapes of healthcare becoming increasingly complex as they intertwine with the new immigrant geographies in the country. This paper seeks to address and critically review the significance of this approach in the geography of healthcare literature. Additionally, it also draws attention to the ways in which new immigrant communities navigate the complex neoliberal healthcare system in the US, and how the cultural barriers they face often limit their access to comprehensive healthcare and influence their health seeking behavior.

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