Culturally Competent Nursing to Reduce Health Disparities

      Background: Nurses spend more time in direct patient care than any other type of health professional and as such, are in a unique position to improve access to care, quality of care, and health outcomes for all patients, particularly those at risk for racial and ethnic disparities. The need for nurses to effectively treat racial and ethnic minorities grows more crucial as our nation becomes more diverse.
      Purpose: In order to equip nurses with the tools needed to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate care, the Office of Minority Health (OMH) at the US Department of Health and Human Services developed the Culturally Competent Nursing Modules (CCNMs), launched in March 2007. The CCNMs are a CNE-accredited online training program based on the OMH's National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) in Health Care, and are designed to enhance nurses' abilities to provide patient-centered care.
      Methodology: The results of a systematic, mixed-methods evaluation conducted in Spring 2009 will be presented. Quantitative and qualitative participant data was gathered through a variety of collection instruments, including pre- and post-test scores and focus groups conducted throughout the country. Control group data provided further analysis of the CCNMs' impact. Quantitative analysis included non-parametric methods such as the Wilcoxon Signed-Rank Test, Spearman's Rank Correlation Coefficient, and the Kruskal-Wallis One-Way Analysis of Variance. Qualitative methods used a thematic analysis based in inductive reasoning of focus group comments.
      Findings: Findings indicate that the CCNMs increase knowledge and awareness of cultural competency; provide skills and tools to enhance the role of cultural competency in nurse-patient interactions; and offer methods to change attitudes amongst nurses dealing with patients within different racial/ethnic categories.
      Summary Concluding Statement: The CCNM curriculum shows the potential for changing health care practice settings, improving health outcomes, and ultimately mitigating racial/ethnic health disparities.