Effectiveness of Interventions Teaching Cross-Cultural Competencies to Health-Related Professionals With Work Experience: A Systematic Review

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Abstract

Introduction:

Because of the increasing diversity in society, health professionals are working with patients from many different cultural backgrounds. Interventions to improve culture-specific competencies in health care have been shown to be successful. However, there is an increasing demand for continuing professional development in general cross-cultural competencies that do not focus on specific cultures. Previous reviews do not differentiate between general cross-cultural and culturally specific competencies. This review assesses the effectiveness of interventions that aim to increase cross-cultural competencies in health professionals.

Methods:

Databases were searched systematically to identify quantitative and qualitative studies that focus on cross-cultural competencies in health care professions. Two independent raters used an assessment tool (Quality Assessment Tool for Studies with Diverse Designs, QATSDD) to rate the quality of the results.

Results:

Thirty-one of 34 identified studies described cross-cultural competency interventions to be effective in terms of participants' satisfaction with the interventions and self-rated knowledge improvement. Nineteen studies relied exclusively on subjective assessment methods. Most of them reported significant findings, whereas results from five studies with independent ratings or objective assessments were mostly not significant. Many studies lacked in providing sufficient data on intervention descriptions.

Discussion:

Cross-cultural competency interventions seem to be effective—according to self-ratings by participants. However, the definitions of cultural competency, the objectiveness of measurements, and the types of study outcomes were varied. To evaluate the success of cross-cultural competency interventions, more evidence from objective, behavioral assessments is needed. Studies should investigate the differential impact of various intervention types and need to provide detailed reporting on methods and outcomes.

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