Culture, Language and Health Literacy

Effective health communication is as important to health care as clinical skill. To improve individual health and build healthy communities, health care providers need to recognize and address the unique culture, language and health literacy of diverse consumers and communities. 


Doctor caring for an infant patient image.

Be Safe Workbook: A Cultural Competency Model for African Americans  Go to exit disclaimer. (HRSA Grantee)


See all resources on race/ethnicity


Doctor checking a patient's ears image.

Addressing Health Disparities through Civil Rights and Enforcement recorded webcast

Provider’s Guide to Quality & Culture Go to exit disclaimer. (HRSA Grantee)

See all general resources 


Doctor taking a patient's heartbeat.

A Guide to the Clinical Care of Women with HIV/AIDS Go to exit disclaimer. (HRSA Grantee)

Prevention and Management of Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Men who Have Sex with Men: A Toolkit for Clinicians Go to exit disclaimer. (HRSA Grantee)

See all resources on gender

Special Populations

Doctor talking to a patient.

Migrant Clinicians Network Cultural Competence in Practice Go to exit disclaimer. (HRSA Grantee)

Addressing Cultural and Linguistic Competence in the Health Care for Homeless Setting: A Brief Guide (PDF - 6 pages) Go to exit disclaimer. (HRSA Grantee)

See all resources on special populations


Doctor caring for an elderly patient image.

Empowering Girls to Take Control of Their Bodies Through Breast Cancer Detection Skills (PDF - 1 page) Go to exit disclaimer. (HRSA Grantee)

Stanford University School of Medicine Geriatric Education Center Program Go to exit disclaimer. (HRSA Grantee)

See all resources on age

Research & Education

Nurse caring for a child patient image.

Cultural Competence Resources for Clinicians: AIDS Education and Training Center (AETC) National Resource Center Go to exit disclaimer. (HRSA Grantee)

See all resources on research & education

Organ Donation & Transplantation

Cómo colaborar con su equipo de trasplantes: Guía sobre trasplantes para el paciente Go to exit disclaimer. (PDF - 1015 KB)

Partnering With Your Transplant Team: The Patient’s Guide to Transplantation (HRSA Grantee)

See all resources on organ donation & transplantation

Date Last Reviewed:  May 2017

Essential Health Literacy Tools

Plain Language

National Partnership for Action to End Health Disparities Toolkit for Community Action (PDF - 9.4 MB) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Clear Communication National Institutes of Health

Toolkit for Making Written Materials Clear and Effective Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services


Collecting Culturally- and Linguistically-Specific Patient Data. Under the Affordable Care Act, to the extent practicable, federal health data collections will include culturally- and linguistically-specific data on populations served. Guidance and tools have yet to be developed. This information is included as an advisory for program planners.

Culture. Attitudes and behaviors that are characteristic of a group or community. Learn more: What is Cultural Competence? (Office of Minority Health)

Cultural Competence. A set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency, or among professionals that enables effective work in cross-cultural situations. What is Cultural Competence? (Office of Minority Health)

Limited English Proficiency
TeamSTEPPS: This evidence-based module will provide insight into the core concepts of teamwork as they are applied to your work with patients who have difficulty communicating in English.

Health Literacy
The degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.

Plain Language
Writing that is clear and to the point, which helps to improve communication and takes less time to read and understand.