Using Campinha-Bacote's process of cultural competence model to examine the relationship between health literacy and cultural competence

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This paper presents a discussion of the relation between health literacy and cultural competence in nursing practice.


Cultural competence involves understanding values, beliefs, traditions and customs of diverse groups. Health literacy is the degree to which individuals can obtain, process, and understand health information to make healthcare decisions. Cultural competence and health literacy are directly related to healthcare. Campinha-Bacote's Process of Cultural Competence Model can assist nurses in addressing cultural issues associated with a person's low health literacy.

Data sources.

Literature searches were performed using CINAHL, ERIC, Academic Search Premier, Health Source Nursing, MasterFILE Premier and Academic OneFile. All articles reviewed were published in peer reviewed journals in English from the 1990s to the present and were relevant to health literacy and cultural competence in nursing. Books and other supporting scholarly sources were also used.


Health literacy and cultural competence are related. Applying Campinha-Bacote's Process of Cultural Competence Model using the mnemonic ASKED (awareness, skills, knowledge, encounters and desire) involves incorporating culturally appropriate assessments and disseminating healthcare information at lower literacy levels and is needed for nurses to provide care for ethnic minorities and diverse populations.

Implications for nursing.

Health literacy should be assessed and care should be based on a client's level of understanding and cultural values and norms.


Nurses can care for ethnic minorities by using resources that target health literacy deficits and by increasing their own cultural competence.

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