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Cultural Competency

For Medica Providers


Culture influences an individual’s health and mental health beliefs, practices, behaviors, and even the outcomes of interventions. Health behavior depends on how one understands the cause of illness. In mental health and medicine, research indicates that culturally appropriate service improves diagnostic accuracy, increases adherence to recommended treatment, and reduces inappropriate emergency room and hospital use.

Cultural competency is the ability and the will to respond to the unique needs of a member that arise from the member’s culture. Cultural competency is also the ability to use the member’s culture as a resource or tool to assist with the intervention and help meet their needs. This approach to serving others views, cultural values, and traditions as strengths can play an important part in serving our members’ needs. Minnesota consists of many diverse populations and cultures, which are growing all the time, making it vital to develop culturally and linguistically competent providers capable of delivering culturally appropriate services.

Health care and mental health disparities are closely connected to race, culture, ethnicity, and poverty. Due to a variety of barriers, some services are less available and accessible for people of color and other groups, such as children and youth; deaf and hard of hearing; and gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) people. Medica is continually working to address policies to improve treatment planning and practices related to cultural competency and health disparities.

Cultural competency, combined with clinical standards, improves the quality of health care for members from diverse communities. It works to ensure equal access and non-discriminatory practices in service delivery.

"Mental health services often are more effective when they are provided with the most relevant and meaningful cultural, gender-sensitive, and age-appropriate context for the people being served."

— Cultural Competence Standards in Managed Care Mental Health Services for Four Underserved/Underrepresented Racial/Ethnic Groups, December 2018, WICHE Mental Health Program and the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

ADA and Cultural Competency FAQ (PDF)

Medica’s definition of cultural competency was adapted from the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) Cultural Competency webpage

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