Recognizing the Need for Cultural Change
Table of Contents
2. Cultural awareness
3. Cultural sensitivity
4. Cultural competence
5. Cultural humility
United States of America demographics profiles illustrates a nation rich in culture and culture diversity.
By the year 2050, there will be a 50% increase in minorities (Seibert,Stridh-Igo, & Zimmerman, 2002).
Culture is an organized group of learned responses. Culture is important because it allows us to interact
within our society. Culture creates a highly mobile and a constantly changing environment revealing the
need for new levels of culture awareness and culture sensitivity. These issues are important to
understand in the medical community because cultural differences and barriers impact the way we
evaluate, treat, and rehabilitate patients (Seibert,Stridh-Igo, & Zimmerman, 2002). Understanding
cultural differences is becoming more important in health promotion and prevention activities.
However, culture can be a complex concept to understand. It is the scope of this paper to discuss the
differences between cultural awareness, cultural sensitivity, cultural competence, cultural humility, and
how these can impact the way we take care of our patients.
So what is culture awareness? The National Center for Cultural Competence (NCCC) defines culture
awareness as “being cognizant, observant, and conscious of similarities and differences among and
between cultural groups” This is the foundation of culture diversity. According to NCCC, cultural
awareness can facilitate:
1. Recognize how culture shapes our perceptions
2. Become more responsive to our fellow students and coworkers
3. Become more sensitive as a mentor or manager
4. Become more alert to culture differences and similarities that will present opportunities and
challenges to working in multicultural environment
5. Becomes more aware of organizational culture and its implications for policy, practice, and teaching,
research, and community engagements
Culture awareness is understanding how people acquire their culture and culture‘s important role in
personal identities and life ways. It also means being aware of our biases.
Cultural sensitivity is the next component to understanding culture diversity. Being cultural sensitive
means being aware that cultural differences and similarities exists and have an effect on values,
learning and behavior (Stafford, Bowman, Eking, Hanna, &Lopoes-DeFede, 1997). In the health care
field this can be defined as differences between our own health care beliefs and those around us. It is