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Cultural Competency

What is Cultural Competency?

Cultural and linguistic competence is a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency, or among professionals that enables effective work in cross-cultural situations. 'Culture' refers to integrated patterns of human behavior that include the language, thoughts, communications, actions, customs, beliefs, values, and institutions of racial, ethnic, religious, or social groups. 'Competence' implies having the capacity to function effectively as an individual and an organization within the context of the cultural beliefs, behaviors, and needs presented by consumers and their communities. (Adapted from Cross, 1989).

And why is it important?

Cultural competency is one the main ingredients in closing the disparities gap in health care. It’s the way patients and doctors can come together and talk about health concerns without cultural differences hindering the conversation, but enhancing it. Quite simply, health care services that are respectful of and responsive to the health beliefs, practices and cultural and linguistic needs of diverse patients can help bring about positive health outcomes.

from Office of Minority health (OMH), US Department of Health and Human Services


· New: Village of 100

· Diversity Activities for Youth and Adults

· Diversity Discussion Starters: A Collection of Ice Breakers Designed to Start  Conversation about Diversity

· More Diversity Activities for Youth and Adults



· Breaking New Ground and Building Capacity in Cultural Tailoring

· National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health Care

· Health Resources and Services Administration—Cultural Competence Resources for Health Care Providers

·  NC Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities 

· 2006 report on Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities in North Carolina


Priority Populations—National Networks:

· Asian American/Pacific Islanders:

Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy and Leadership (APPEAL) is a national network of organizations and individuals working towards social justice and a tobacco-free Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy and Leadership (APPEAL) is a national network of organizations and individuals working towards social justice and a tobacco-free Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.

· Black/African American:

The National African American Tobacco Prevention Network (NAATPN) is one of six CDC funded networks that engages national and statewide partners in tobacco control and prevention activities in Black communities. In its role, NAATPN maintains and strengthens its national network by:

·        facilitating learning and information sharing

·        assessing the impact of tobacco within disparate populations

·        identifying gaps in data, interventions or evaluations

·        facilitating activities and programs that address each               

· Disabled

Disability.gov is an award-winning federal Web site that contains disability-related resources on programs, services, laws and regulations to help people with disabilities lead full, independent lives. Its mission is to connect people with disabilities, their family members, veterans, caregivers, employers, service providers and others with the resources they need to ensure that people with disabilities can fully participate in the workplace and in their communities.

· Gay / Lesbian / Bi-sexual / Transgendered

Lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people have been targeted by the Tobacco Industry.  Interventions to counter tobacco use are not always culturally tailored for the LGBT communities. The LGBTQ communities smoke at rates 40%-almost 200% higher than the general population.

The National Tobacco Control Network is working to support the many local tobacco control advocates in helping to eliminate tobacco health disparities for all LGBTs.

· Indian / Native American:

The National Native Commercial Tobacco Abuse Prevention Network is committed to preserving the sacred status of traditional tobacco and its ceremonial / sacred uses. When abused, addictive commercial tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death for American Indians and Alaska Natives. Our national network is a diverse community of American Indian / Alaska Natives leading commercial tobacco abuse prevention efforts throughout Indian Country.

· Latino / Hispanic:

The National Latino Tobacco Control Network (NLTCN) - The Network is building a National Directory of Latinos working on tobacco, alcohol, other drugs and health disparities which will be updated each month and allow users to conduct searches of colleagues by state and expertise. We are publishing a Newsletter with important news, upcoming events, training opportunities and recent reports and publications about promising and best practices in tobacco control. Our website has links to repositories of tobacco control materials, curriculums and reports to help advocates do their work. The Network’s listserv provides opportunities for information exchange and networking for all Network members. It also links state health departments, mainstream tobacco control organizations, and communities to network members who can provide technical assistance and culturally and linguistically appropriate training. The Network is open to all of those who are interested in achieving health equity for Latinos and all communities of color and those with limited economic resources.

· Low SES:

The goal of the Break Free Alliance is to engage key organizations serving low SES populations in tobacco control efforts and to assist them with resource development and assessments, technical assistance, capacity building, and evaluation to prevent and reduce tobacco use in low-income communities.

Low socioeconomic status (SES) individuals have poorer health, exhibit fewer healthy behaviors, and are less likely to pursue preventive health care. These underserved populations are multi-ethnic, multi-cultural communities having little to no resources that provide tobacco education or control services. Throughout the U.S., children and adults in low SES populations suffer disproportionately from tobacco-related morbidity and mortality. Clearly, there is a need to network groups and organizations servicing low SES populations in a national effort to reduce tobacco use. Connecting such groups is one of the Alliance's goals.

Promoting System Change in Community Drive Tobacco Control—The American Legacy Foundation has recently published this guide as part of its comprehensive dissemination effort to highlight promising tobacco control strategies. This publication examines how Legacy's Community Voices grantees created systems-level changes to provide tobacco control and cessation services primarily to underserved communities.  The publication features four Community Voices grantees as case examples to demonstrate how community-based organizations can affect systems change to achieve tobacco control and cessation outcomes in low socioeconomic status communities.

· Pregnant Teens

The mission of the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina (APPCNC) is to support North Carolina communities in preventing adolescent pregnancy through advocacy, collaboration and education.

· Other:

The Summer 2007 Supplement 3 of Ethnicity and Disease features the proceedings of a national conference on health issues in the Arab American community, including a section on tobacco and health issues.



NC Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation Initiatives

TRU Toolkit





Heritage Toolkit

Need help tailoring your materials? Contact RTI at


Looking for more information regarding possible events hosted by priority population  grantees in your area?

No Fumo Youth Leadership Program

Looking for your area population based trends and demographic information?

Go to the State Demographics branch of OSBM

See 2010 data from NC Office of Minority Health