Moving Toward Cultural Competency in Palliative Care

In the dynamic landscape of palliative care, cultural competency is essential in providing a safe atmosphere for patients and their families who may have troubling experiences within the healthcare system. Traumatic experiences can negatively impact one’s willingness to seek healthcare. Drawing from recent research and advancements, here are some contemporary tips to bolster cultural competence in palliative care:

Embrace Intersectionality
Acknowledge that individuals possess multifaceted identities shaped by factors such as race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and more. Understanding these intersecting identities is essential for providing culturally sensitive care1.

Through reviewing articles and videos, you can learn about the origins of Intersectionality

Utilize Technology for Cultural Understanding
Leverage technological tools and resources to deepen your understanding of diverse cultures. Online platforms, webinars, and virtual training modules can offer insights into cultural nuances and facilitate cross-cultural communication2.

Utilize technology through cellphone application such as Google’s translator apps for when there is a communication barrier

Cultivate Cultural Humility
Embrace a stance of cultural humility characterized by openness, curiosity, and a willingness to learn from patients and their communities. Recognize that cultural competence is an ongoing journey rather than a static achievement2.

One can alter their approach to care by treating the patient, and not the illness

Integrate Trauma-Informed Care
Understand the impact of historical trauma and systemic injustices on patient experiences of illness and end-of-life care. Incorporate trauma-informed approaches that prioritize safety, trustworthiness, choice, collaboration, and empowerment3.

Increase your understanding of the negative impact inequality in healthcare has caused various ethnicities and cultural groups through reviewing these Trauma Informed resources:

Engage in Reflective Practice
Regularly engage in reflective practice to examine your own biases, assumptions, and privileges. Cultivate self-awareness and humility by exploring how your cultural background influences your interactions with patients and families3.

You can take steps in the right direction by reviewing the following:


  1. National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. (2023). Diversity, equity, and inclusion. Retrieved March 7th, 2024 from
  2. De Santis, K. K., Mergenthal, L., Christianson, L., Busskamp, A., Vonstein, C., & Zeeb, H. (2023). Digital technologies for health promotion and disease prevention in older people: Scoping review. Journal of Medical Internet Research25, e43542.Retrieved on March 7th, 2024 from
  3. de Groot, J. M., Fehon, D. C., Calman, L., Miller, D. S., & Feldstain, A. (2023). Trauma-informed palliative care is needed: A call for implementation and research. Palliative Medicine, 37(10), 1470–1473. Retrieved March 7th 2024 from

Download Tip of the Month

PDF – Moving Toward Cultural Competency in Palliative Care