Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Multicultural Competency Instrumentation: A Review and Analysis of Reliability Generalization

Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Multicultural Competency Instrumentation: A Review and Analysis of Reliability Generalization

Article excerpt

Amidst general progress in moving toward culturally competent mental health services, pressures to define the construct of multicultural competence and provide evidence for its utility and validity in improving intervention outcomes continue to increase. Stanley Sue (2003) acknowledged this state of the field:

   What is the evidence for the effectiveness of cultural competence?
   How is culture competency defined and measured?
   There are compelling reasons to address these questions.
   Administrators of mental health systems and agencies want
   to hire culturally competent providers and to train their providers
   to be culturally competent. Many providers sincerely
   want to develop cultural proficiencies. But how are these
   tasks to be accomplished? For example, how can culturally
   competent providers be identified? What measures of cultural
   competence are there? ... We should be particularly interested
   in the evidence base for these questions. (p. 966)

Central to providing an evidence base for the questions posed by Stanley Sue is the issue of multicultural competency assessment. In other words, if counseling professionals are to evaluate multicultural competence, they need to know what instruments are available to assess the construct and, more important, be confident in the reliability and validity of the scores from those instruments. Research evaluating multicultural competence is indeed "a cornerstone of the multicultural counseling literature" (Reynolds, 2001, p. 833).

Since the development of multicultural competency instruments in the late 1980s and early 1990s (LaFromboise, Coleman, & Hernandez, 1991; Ponterotto, Rieger, Barrett, & Sparks, 1994), researchers have been able to assess multicultural competence from the perspective of the therapist, client, and third-party observer (e.g., Arthur & Januszkowski, 2001; Fuertes & Brobst, 2002; Worthington, Mobley, Franks, & Tan, 2000). Such instrumentation forms a critical part of research investigating multicultural competency development, cross-cultural training effectiveness, and the influence of cultural variables on counseling process and outcome (e.g., Bellini, 2002; Christensen, 2002; Constantine, 2000, 2002a, 2002b; Fuertes & Brobst, 2002; Wheaten & Granello, 1998).

Recent literature searches revealed that more than 800 manuscripts have addressed multicultural competence in mental health professional training and assessment. Although other authors (e.g., Ponterotto et el., 1994) had previously reviewed this literature when it was quite small, the proliferation of manuscripts on multicultural competence necessitates a current evaluation of the state of the field to provide counselor educators, counselors, and researchers with an objective guide of the instruments' strengths and limitations over time and across populations and settings. Reliability generalization is a method for evaluating score reliability across many studies (e.g., Vacha-Haase, 1998). Such an analysis and an accompanying narrative review would respond to S. Sue's (2003) question about measures of multicultural competence, generate recommendations for improving those measures, and inform the way that counselors and counselor educators assess multicultural competence.

Review of Previous Instrumentation Reviews

In 1994, Joseph Ponterotto and colleagues conducted the first narrative review of multicultural competency instrumentation, including the Multicultural Counseling Inventory (MCI; Sodowsky, Taffe, Gutkin, & Wise, 1994), the Cross-Cultural Counseling Inventory-Revised (CCCI-R; LaFromboise et al., 1991), the Multicultural Counseling Awareness Scale: Form B (MCAS: B; Ponterotto et al., 1996), and the Multicultural Awareness Knowledge Skills Scale (MAKSS; D'Andrea, Daniels, & Heck, 1991). The authors found that each instrument followed the model of multicultural competency developed by Derald Wing Sue and colleagues (D. …

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