Academic journal article Journal of Cultural Diversity

Cultural Competency among School Health Educators

Academic journal article Journal of Cultural Diversity

Cultural Competency among School Health Educators

Article excerpt

Abstract: Changing demographics in the American classroom make it imperative for school health educators to possess the ability to deliver health education in a manner that takes into account students' cultural backgrounds and practices. The purpose of this article is to describe the level of cultural competence among school health educators and to provide some strategies by which these educators can enhance their cultural competency. Findings from this study show that educators have cultural awareness but illustrate the need for more research in this area in order to understand and increase cultural competency among school health educators.

Key Words: Cultural Competency, Health Education, School Health Educators

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. A population is more racially and ethically diverse than ever before (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000). Census data show that the largest population increase during the 1990s occurred among non-White populations, especially among Hispanics, Asians, and Pacific Islanders. Diversification of the U.S. population can be observed in the elementary through high school age groups which have become more racially and ethnically diverse in the last 10 years (U.S. Census Bureau, 2004). Census data also showed a 6% decrease in the proportion of White non-Hispanic elementary and high school students from 68% in 1993 to 62% in 2002 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2004). As schoolaged children and adolescents become more racially and ethnically diverse, school health educators have the opportunity to explore health, disease, and crosscultural practices, which extend beyond traditional models.

Several researchers have addressed the topics of culture and health, multicultural health education, and the development of cultural sensitivity and competence among health educators (Acosta-Deprez & Monroe, 1996; Airhihenbuwa, 1995a, 1995b; Airhihenbuwa & Pineiro, 1988; Luquis & Pérez, 2003; Luquis & Pérez, 2005; Pinzón & Pérez, 1997; Redican, Steward, Johnson, & Frazee, 1994). However, few studies have been conducted to assess the preparation of health educators, especially school health educators, in the area of cultural competence. The purpose of this article is to describe trie level of cultural competence among a select group of school health educators and to provide some strategies by which school health educators can enhance their cultural competency.

Cultural competence is defined as "the ability of an individual to understand and respect values, attitudes, beliefs, and mores that differ across cultures and to consider and respond appropriately to these differences in planning, implementing, and evaluating health education and promotion programs and interventions" (Joint Terminology Committee, 2002, p.5). In the case of school health educators, cultural competence can be defined as the ability of health teachers to understand, respect, and apply the values, attitudes, beliefs, and health practices of culturally diverse students and to appropriately implement cross cultural health educational strategies as part of their teaching.

METHOD

Sample

Data for this study were collected from members of the American Association for Health Education (AAHE). Members from this organization were selected since they represent a wide cross-section of health educators, including educators employed in schools (Pre-K-12) (AAHE, n.d.). One thousand current AAHE members were randomly selected to participate in the study. Four hundred and fifty participants returned a completed survey for a 46% response rate. A complete description of the sample selection process is published elsewhere (Luquis & Pérez, 2005).

Instrument

Data were collected using a modified version of the Inventory for Assessing the Process of Cultural Competence among Healthcare Professionals - Revised© (IAPCC-R) (Campinha-Bacote, 2003). The IAPCC-R is a self-administered tool consisting of 25 items designed to measure the level of cultural competence among healthcare personnel. …

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