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  • Dr. Rogéair D. Purnell

Cultural Competency in Action

I had the good fortune to partner over a three-year period with a number of fellow colleagues and thoughtful and passionate advocates and service providers to strengthen cultural competency to end domestic violence (DV). Although ‘cultural competency’ wasn’t the perfect term to describe our collective efforts which were supported by the Blue Shield of California Foundation, our work was guided by the following definition:


Cultural competency is the providing of linguistically and culturally sensitive — and responsive — services. Put simply, it’s the understanding of how someone’s specific culture may require different approaches to care, whether that be speaking their language, adapting to religious or cultural customs and preferences, or generally focusing on their individual needs and concerns (see Purnell & Teng, 2012).

As the initiative progressed, we often used other terms such as cultural humility, cultural sensitivity and cultural awareness. Either way, our goal was to identify and implement more effective outreach and activities, strategies and practices that would attract and result in more positive outcomes for high need and underserved DV survivors.


In my next post, I’ll talk a bit about cultural competency at three different levels.

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