The meanings of cultural competence in mental health: an exploratory focus group study with patients, clinicians, and administrators

Neil Krishan Aggarwal, Kryst Cedeño, Peter Guarnaccia, Arthur Kleinman, Roberto Lewis-Fernández

Publication Date: 12/01/2016

Abstract: Cultural competence training is mandatory in the United States of America to alleviate minority health disparities though few studies have examined perceptions across stakeholders. We conducted separate focus groups with patients, clinicians, and administrators from the psychiatry department at one community hospital and compared responses to hospital policies. Stakeholders defined cultural competence through group-based or person-centered traits despite policies recommended person-centered approaches. Administrators and clinicians named clinician techniques for psycho-education whereas patients named these techniques for enlistment in treatment planning as equals. All groups named patient cultural views and institutional challenges as barriers to care, but only patients and administrators additionally named clinician biases as possible barriers. We discuss these discrepant perceptions and possible solutions to improve research, practice, and policy on cultural competence in mental health.