Cultural Competence: A Pharmacy Perspective

Publication Date


Document Type



JOURNAL OF PHARMACY PRACTICE 2004.17;3:160–166 © 2004 Sage Publications DOI: 10.1177/0897190004264812


There is overwhelming evidence that disparities in the provision of health care exist between various groups of people. Pharmacists must be aware of these disparities and join the health workforce in closing the gap between people of different racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds. The role of the pharmacist has expanded, and this profession must embrace diversity to provide a higher quality of care to all patients. Cultural competence in health care is an ongoing process and starts with self-reflection. It incorporates the ability to recognize the unique needs of diverse gpopulations and the ability to adapt care accordingly. In addition to knowledge and skills, cultural competence requires a positive attitude that emphasizes respect across all cultures. While pharmacists have often lacked training in caring for diverse patients, learning a few basic concepts will assist them with their individual patient encounters. This article provides essential elements that will help pharmacists better understand cultural competence and apply this knowledge in pharmacy practice.