Cultural Competency Training and Evaluation Methods Across Dietetics Education: A Narrative Review

Published:March 19, 2020DOI:


      Developing cultural competence among credentialed nutrition and dietetics practitioners is critical to move toward eliminating disparities in health care. Despite emphasis put forth on culturally competent care by credentialed nutrition and dietetics practitioners, the types, methods, and outcomes of cultural competency training are lacking or inconsistent. In this narrative review, we evaluated studies detailing cultural competency training for content, modes of delivery, and learner outcomes. Main inclusion criteria were students in dietetics or credentialed nutrition and dietetics practitioners engaging in an educational intervention. Exclusion criteria were studies published before 2000 and not published in the English language. Ten studies were reviewed from four health science databases. Our aims were to quantify the literature on cultural competence training in dietetics education and describe the interventions to identify gaps within the field; thus, a quality assessment tool was not utilized. Data were extracted on learner type, number of participants, curriculum content, intervention type, learning outcomes, and outcome evaluation tool. Most studies employed interprofessional education (n=7) and/or service learning (n=6) as interventions types. Quantitative evaluation of learners in the studies reviewed indicated increased knowledge and skill (statistically significant; n=2), whereas qualitative evaluation of learners indicated themes, including curriculum satisfaction, gains in competence, and comfort working with diverse people. Methods of evaluation and delivery were inconsistent, making it difficult to draw larger conclusions about cultural competency training in dietetics. Cultural competence creates opportunities for growth and development of health professionals to serve diverse communities and work environments; future work should include standardizing evaluations of training, specifically to include both qualitative and quantitative methods.


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      C. F. McCabe is a doctoral degree candidate, Department of Nutritional Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.


      A. O’Brien-Combs is a dietetic intern; at the time the study was completed, she was a master of public health nutrition candidate, Department of Nutritional Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.


      O. S. Anderson is a clinical assistant professor, Department of Nutritional Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.