Article Title

Assessment of Cultural Competence in an Ethnic Health Program: Evidence-Based Study

Publication Date



ethnic health care access, Korean American


Background/Aims: Language, culture and socioeconomic determinants lead to disparities in health care. As our society becomes more ethnically and racially diverse, there is an urgent need for a health care access model, which can provide sociocultural and linguistic needs to all ethnic groups. The purpose of this study was to evaluate key factors of culturally competent health care access programs designed to address cultural and linguistic needs of underserved ethnic groups. This study utilizes a “Korean Medical Program” (KMP), an ethnic health program of a local medical center in Bergen County, NJ, as a health care access model to evaluate its program as determined by members of the community. These data are further analyzed to determine specific barriers to health access and to speculate on the elements required for cultural competence.

Methods: We utilized document analysis, surveys and interviews to evaluate experiences of a regional Korean American community on overall services provided by KMP and the local medical center. Using data from comprehensive analysis, we found sociodemographic characteristics, outcomes of health services, barriers to health care access and factors governing the effectiveness of KMP.

Results: Data from 375 Korean American participants indicated that 51.2% were aware of KMP, and 35.7% knew about KMP health campaigns, but only 7.1% participated in campaigns. Most effective means of marketing were through television, radio and newspapers. 71% were satisfied with KMP’s services. 74% (n=33) of outpatients were satisfied with the services, while only 39% (n=50) of inpatients felt the same. The profiles on access barriers depended on the ages of the participants. While the most significant barrier in the younger group (age 20–59) was cost, the most significant barrier in the older group (age 59+) was language followed by cost.

Discussion: A culturally competent health program requires numerous factors. Communication between patients and health professionals is essential, and well-trained health care interpreters are needed. Certification programs to train staff to be culturally competent are also recommended. Finally, any culturally sensitive program should engage with the community to collaborate with its health professionals to address health and welfare needs.




April 2nd, 2015


April 28th, 2015