Cultural Competency and the Research Process

Cultural Competence in Research: Annotated Bibliography. The Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center (2009 & 2010)

Cultural competence in research

Cultural competency in research has been defined as:

  • The ability of researchers and research staff to provide high quality research that takes into account the culture and diversity of a population when developing research ideas, conducting research, and exploring applicability of research findings.

Cultural competence in research plays a critical role in:

  • Study design and implementation process (the development of research questions and hypotheses)
  • Outreach and recruitment strategies
  • Consent activities
  • Data collection protocols
  • Analysis and interpretation of research findings; drawing conclusions; and presentation and dissemination of  results

Cultural competence is critical for researchers to ensure:

  • Effective communication and interaction between researchers and study participants
  • Adequate analysis and interpretation of results as they relate to the patient/population impact
  • Appropriate engagement in study design and implementation for community/population based research
  • Improved participation of minority populations in research studies ensuring that different subgroups in the population are represented proportionally.
  • Successful recruitment and retention of diverse individuals as study participants
  • Applicability of results and findings to diverse populations
  • Meeting the target population’s social, cultural and linguistic needs

Continuing the Process: What Can You Do?

  • Initiate the conversation! Encourage issues related to culture and research to be discussed in your department and during staff meetings
  • Commit to self-education. This month, read at least 3 of the resources related to cultural competency and research.

Want to learn more? 

View Cultural Competency in Research, presented Katrice D. Cain, MA and Mary Ellen Lawless, MA, RN from the Center for Reducing Health Disparities (May 2013). This presentation provides an introduction to cultural competency in research and overview of the importance of considering culture throughout the research process.

Viewing the slide presentation and taking an online quiz will allow you to receive 3 Continuing Research Education Credits (CRECs). The slides from the presentation are available at: (Cultural Competency in Research: Katrice Cain and Mary Ellen Lawless’s Powerpoint Handout).