Cultural Diversity and Its Role in Patient Safety


Quality care provision to patients is the main objectives of any medical intervention. In most cases, this is reached when there is mutual trust and understands between the patient and caregiver. This calls for a deep insight in health care diversity management. Cultural diversity is one of the major diversities found in health care. It is based on acceptance and understanding of individuals based on their cultural beliefs and values. Cultural competence has been used to refer to the ability of an institution to harmoniously integrate cultural diversity in the organization. In health care, cultural competence has been a move to increase quality provision. Consequently, it ensures maximum health safety to patients.

Literature Review

According to Engebretson, Mahoney and Carlson (2012). Cultural diversity is an important component of patients’ safety. It highlights a vital gap between the quality of health care that patients receive and the health care they ought to receive. From McElroy & Townsend, health care quality should be determined by internationally and nationally recommended care provision standards (McElroy & Townsend, 2008). Additionally, World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a health care system, which is easily accessible, equal and affordable to different needs of patients depending on their beliefs and values.

Engebretson highlights the importance of implementing health care practice as per WHO standards. Engebretson points out cultural diversity as a contributing factor in healthcare inequity and inequality. As a result, most health reforms are directed towards reduction of cultural gaps creation of cultural competency. The focus has been the reduction of cultural barriers for effective health care and safety through cultural tolerance and understanding among the care givers (Engebretson, 2012).

Studies from the Office of minority Health shows that, in meeting cultural competency and responsiveness of patients, caregivers have given their attention to behavioral and socioeconomic factors influencing health care (Office of Minority Health, 2010). As per Maier (2008), evidence based researches; have shown that there is a correlation in health safety, quality and equity in many institutions where cultural competency is practiced. As a result, evidence based research has been the best research tool for creation and implementation of cultural competence healthcare setting, as it offers a practical guide (Maier, 2008).

Both qualitative and quantitative research carried out by Kathryn, and her group shows that, there is a need for multidimensional approach to develop an effective patients’ safety clinical environment through cultural competency (Kathryn, Jerilyn, Kathryn & Lisa, 2009). From the work of Engebretson, most organizations, which have succeeded in creating clinical environments free from cultural barriers, have engaged all stakeholders in the healthcare system.

There is a need for caregivers to understand their working environment and those factors that influence the behavior of their community (Engebretson, 2012). On the other hand, McElroy & Townsend put emphases on the need for cross cultural education to be included in nursing training programs, to make nurses free from cultural prejudices as an ethical requirement. Consequently, health promotional educations should be carried out among communities against such unhealthy practices as fasting (McElroy & Townsend, 2008).

According to Daniel, Marya & Dee (2012), Effective management of healthcare cultural diversity enhances the quality of health and patients safety. The basic approach to management of cultural diversity is through the creation of awareness between nurses and patients. Another way to deal with cultural diversity and creation of patient’s safety is through encouraging the workers to develop ethnic language competency. This creates confidentiality and enables the patients to take part in the clinical decision making on their health (McElroy & Townsend, 2008). Nevertheless, healthcare efficiency and effectiveness in quality provision in, a diverse setting, can be achieved through proper evidence based research and good implementation policies (Kathryn et al., 2009).


From the literature reviews, cultural diversity can be managed through several methods. Regulatory and ethical measures such as those adopted by WHO and different health organizations have been identified as some of the most commonly practiced. Organization modes of creating culturally competence health care involve encouraging cultural diversity through organization’s processes and programs. Healthcare management need to encourage work diversity to maintain and healthy organization. Managers achieve these through diverse intercommunity recruitments and integration of racial and ethnic factors in the recruitment policies (McElroy & Townsend, 2008).

Organizational setting i.e. leadership diversity in the health care has a lot of impact on effectiveness and efficiency of health provisions. To have a cultural competent organization; most employees should be recruited within the community where any health facility operates. Diverse workplace is always very effective when dealing with diverse patients. Patients can easily find nurses who understand them culturally and linguistically. Creation of cultural competent organization can also be achieved through organization strategies such as objectives set in the mission statement (Engebretson, 2012).

Nurses need training programs on management of cultural diversity: this involves the use of training materials and education on equipping health care providers with knowledge on how to manage varying sociocultural beliefs and their influences on health care provision and patient safety. Clinical cultural competency can also be achieved through, creation of healthcare awareness in the community. Community education enables nurses and patients and patients to appreciate each other in a clinical environment (Engebretson, 2012).


Engebretson, J. (2012). Clinically Applied Medical Ethnography: Relevance to Cultural Competence in Patience care. Web.

Daniel, V., Marya R., & Dee A. (2012). Competently Mixing: Does a Clinical Practice Cultural Competence Framework Fit in Mixed Methods Research? Web.

Jim, G., & Howard J. (2012). New Research: The Importance of Cultural Diversity in Healthcare Leadership. Web.

Kathryn, A., Jerilyn, K., Kathryn, A., & Lisa A. (2009). Provider and Clinic Cultural Competence in a Primary Care Setting. Web.

Maier M. (2008). Transcultural Nursing: It is Importance for Practice. J Cult Divers, 15(1), 37-43.

McElroy, A., & Townsend, P. (2008). Medical Anthropology in Ecological Perspective. Boulder (CO): Westview Press.

Office of Minority Health. (2010). A Practical Guide to Implementing the Recommended National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health Care. Web.