Multicultural Health Care and Cultural Competence

Tufts Health Public Plans

Physicians today are acutely aware of their patient population's diversity, and recognize the challenge of providing appropriate care based on the individual patient's cultural, linguistic, educational, and socio-economic needs. Providers must use their best judgment to try to meet the needs of their patients on an individual basis, and take steps to communicate effectively with patients.

Changing demographics of the United States have dramatically affected how people get health care services. According to the 2011 U.S. Census, about 20% of the national population and 21% of the Massachusetts population over five years of age speak a language other than English in the home. It is critical that health care organizations design and implement culturally appropriate services to meet the basic health care needs of an increasingly diverse population.

At Tufts Health Plan, we aim to assist providers in delivering effective health care services to these diverse populations. We are working to implement national standards on culturally and linguistically appropriate services to position our organization to:

  • Respond to current and projected demographic changes
  • Meet federal and state mandates
  • Improve the quality of services and outcomes
  • Understand the impact of culture in health and illness
  • Enhance the workplace environment

Training and education

Tufts Health Plan encourages our providers to take a free cultural competency course from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The course offers nine hours of Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits in the field of cultural competency. Physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners are eligible to take the course and get nine CME credits (for physicians and physician assistants) or nine contact hours (for nurse practitioners).

Translation services


  • Culture Clues are tip sheets for clinicians developed by the University of Washington Medical Center to increase awareness about the preferences of patients from diverse cultures and languages.
  • Think Cultural Health is the flagship initiative of the Center for Linguistic and Cultural Competence in Health Care. The goal of Think Cultural Health is to advance health equity at every point of contact through the development and promotion of culturally and linguistically appropriate services.