National Quality Forum endorses guidelines to reduce disparities and make care patient-centered and culturally appropriate

Practices provide guidance for healthcare systems in areas like leadership, care delivery, workforce training and community engagement

The National Quality Forum (NQF), an organization dedicated to improving healthcare quality, has endorsed 45 practices to guide healthcare systems in providing care that is culturally appropriate and patient-centered. The practices cover issues like communication, community engagement and workforce training, and provide healthcare systems with practices they can implement to help reduce persistent disparities in healthcare and create higher quality more patient-centered care.


According to the NQF Press Release, Racial and ethnic minorities continue to face disproportionately higher rates of disease, disability, and mortality. African Americans have higher death rates from heart disease, diabetes, AIDS, and cancer, and American Indians and Alaskan Natives have lower life expectancies and higher rates of infant mortality.


The new NQF cultural competency practices suggest patient-centered and culturally appropriate approaches for healthcare systems in leadership, care delivery, workforce training, management systems, communication, data collection and quality improvement, and community engagement. Individual guidelines suggest efforts such as partnering with community organizers to reach diverse populations; translating written materials into languages used by the local community; and implementing strategies to recruit and retain employees across all levels of the healthcare system that are reflective of local community demographics.


In the area of data collection, they suggest using a Disparities Toolkit developed by AHA’s Health Research and Educational Trust. HRET President Maulik Joshi said the Web-based toolkit “helps providers collect reliable and accurate race, ethnicity and primary language data to inform improvement strategies for reducing disparities and improving quality of care.”


(SOURCE: National Quality Forum Press Release,, February 23, 2009)