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Describe a time when you witnessed or experienced cultural incompetence in the delivery of health care. Knowing what you now know, discuss what you think could have been done to avoid that incident.

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Cultural incompetence in healthcare delivery refers to the failure of medical professionals to adequately understand and respond to cultural differences among their patients. There are many examples of cultural incompetence in the delivery of both behavioral and other healthcare.

For example, as the article below from the National Council explains, providers of behavioral healthcare should be aware that Latinas in grades 9–12 have much higher suicide rates than other groups. This can help them assess the mental health of their patients from different groups and understand the cultural context of their mental illness. In addition, transgender, lesbian, and gay adults are more likely to have mental illness than other adults.

A culturally competent healthcare provider takes the time to assess the mental and physical wellbeing of different kinds of patients with an understanding of how cultural variables might affect them. For example, a culturally incompetent provider might not ask a transgender patient about the trauma or stress that person has experienced as a result of their sexual identity. To make this encounter with a healthcare provider more culturally competent, the provider should assess this patient's substance use, anxiety and depression levels and ask about the person's personal support structure. Cultural competence involves asking questions to understand the totality of a patient's life.

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