Patient centeredness, cultural competence and healthcare quality

Somnath (Som) Saha, Mary Catherine Beach, Lisa A. Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

247 Scopus citations


Cultural competence and patient centeredness are approaches to improving healthcare quality that have been promoted extensively in recent years. In this paper, we explore the historical evolution of both cultural competence and patient centeredness. In doing so, we demonstrate that early conceptual models of cultural competence and patient centeredness focused on how healthcare providers and patients might interact at the interpersonal level and that later conceptual models were expanded to consider how patients might be treated by the healthcare system as a whole. We then compare conceptual, models for both cultural competence and patient centeredness at both the interpersonal and healthcare system levels to demonstrate similarities and differences. We conclude that, although the concepts have had different histories and foci, many of the core features of cultural competence and patient centeredness are the same. Each approach holds promise for improving the quality of healthcare for individual patients, communities and populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1275-1285
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the National Medical Association
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2008



  • Cultural competence
  • Patient-physician relationship
  • Quality of care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

Cite this