What is cultural and linguistic competency?
Culture affects how people communicate, understand, and respond to health information. Cultural and linguistic competency of health professionals can contribute to health literacy. Cultural competence is the ability of health organizations and practitioners to recognize the cultural beliefs, values, attitudes, traditions, language preferences, and health practices of diverse populations, and to apply that knowledge to produce a positive health outcome.4 Competency includes communicating in a manner that is linguistically and culturally appropriate.5
Healthcare professionals have their own culture and language. Many adopt the “culture of medicine” and the language of their specialty as a result of their training and work environment. This can affect how health professionals communicate with the public.
For many individuals with limited English proficiency (LEP), the inability to communicate in English is the primary barrier to accessing health information and services. Health information for people with LEP needs to be communicated plainly in their primary language, using words and examples that make the information understandable.