Transforming and Implementing Intersectional Cultural Competency Curricular Changes to Improve Health Care Delivery for LGBTQ Patients.


This educational session serves to provide recommendations for curricular development regarding cultural competency education both interprofessionally and in DPT curriculum to deliver a more inclusive theoretical construct for improved patient-centered care. We will introduce best-practice recommendations from the medical literature in addressing curriculum development to include both academic and clinical competencies for cultural competency which infuse the needs of the LGBTQ community along with other underrepresented groups, as the LGBTQ community has been nearly invisible in healthcare professional curriculums. Recent population health research has shown significant health disparities in this group, and a key to helping end some barriers to care is having culturally competent health providers.

Methods and/or Description of Project

The APTA Blueprint for teaching cultural competency in physical therapy education defines cultural competence as a developmental process, “APTA supports the concept that cultural competence is a developmental process and that education to promote cultural competency in Doctors of Physical Therapy and Physical Therapy Assistants should progress along a continuum that enhances knowledge, attitudes, and skills throughout the educational program, across varied teaching and learning experiences. “ While this blueprint establishes a framework and theoretical construct, the introduction of an intersectional framework in cultural competency curriculums is being supported in the medical educational literature as a contruct to encompass the more complex definitions of culture beyond simplified cultural understandings. “Intersectional” helps merge the social categories (social class, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, etc.) into the focus on individual culture; each of which can have its own influence on health experiences. Providing the educational foundation on the heterogeneity of racial and ethnic groups and health equity versus teaching group-specific cultural knowledge will enhance the patient-centered care for all patients, including our LGBTQ patients whos needs have been hugely absent from educational initiatives until recently. Using this intersectional framework, we can transform our professional competency objectives to include specific and culturally competent areas for our LGBTQ patients. The ultimate goal is to help diminish health disparities unique to each patient population.


Integrating an intersectional framework into health profession cultural competency education will provide a more meaningful patient-centered approach and ultimately lead to diminished health disparities and more equitable treatment for all patients. As our changing demographics continue in this country and globally, health professionals must adapt in order to understand, communicate with, and provide individualized treatment for diverse groups; this can be vastly improved by applying an intersectional framework in the curriculums academically and clinically.

Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme: Shaping the Future of Physical Therapy Education

Cultural competency is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and National Prevention Information Network (CDC) as the “ability to deliver services within the context of cultural beliefs, behaviors, and needs” (CDC, 2015). Recognizing that cultural competence is a necessary complement to clinical competence; equipping DPT students and allied health professionals with the theoretical intersectional framework is essential in our current health care environment for effective and culturally inclusive service delivery.


2014 APTA Blueprint for Teaching Cultural Competence in Physical Therapy Education

Association of American Medical Colleges. Implementing Curricular and Institutional Climate Changes to
Improve Health Care for Individuals Who Are LGBT, Gender Nonconforming, or Born with DSD, A
Resource for Medical Educators. 2014 Report, First Edition.

Sears KP. Improving cultural competence education: the utility of an intersectional framework. Medical
Education 2012: 46:545-551.

Snowdon S. (2013) Recommendations for Enhancing the Climate for LGBT Students and Employees in
Health Professional Schools, A GLMA White Paper. Washington DC: GLMA.

Masiongale, Tedd (2009). Ethical Service Delivery to Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Populations: A
Specific Focus on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Populations
. Perspectives on Communication
Disorders and Sciences in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Populations 2009; 16, 20-30.

Sherouse, B. HRC Foundation’s Healthcare Equality Index and the Future of LGBT-Inclusive Care. Oct. 15,
2014. Accessed 4/7/9/15.

Advancing Effective Communication, Cultural Competence, and Patient-and Family-Centered Care: A
Roadmap for Hospitals. The Joint Commission.

CDC definition cultural competence; accessed 4/9/15:

Stambaugh J. Duke DPT Gay-Straight Alliance.(2013, Sept. 30). Addressing LGBT Competent Care.
Retrieved from

Course Objectives

Be able to distinguish the health disparities and the need for more cultural competency education
specific to our LGBTQ patients.

Be able to employ an intersectional framework of cultural competency and explain why the compound effect of multiple social identifiers is more useful in patient-centered care compared to the traditional approach of treating patient’s race and ethnicity as primary with separate additive variables such as sexual orientation and gender identity.

Be able to appraise some suggestions and recommendations for DPT curricular integration of intersectional
cultural competency education, both academically and clinically.

Instructional Methods

mulimedia lecture, group interaction, question and answer, discussion

Tentative Outline/Schedule

Introduction (Overview of session, learning objectives) (5 minutes)

Overview of Cultural Competency Perspectives and Theoretical Frameworks traditionally used (15 minutes)

Introduction and Basics of the Intersectional Framework for Cultural Competency Education in Health care (15 minutes)

Brief Overview of Inclusive curriculums for LGBTQ patient care (15 minutes)

Interprofessional application with academic and clinical examples (30 minutes)

Q & A (10 minutes)

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  • Control #: 2289514
  • Type: Educational Session
  • Event/Year: ELC2015
  • Authors: Dr. Karla Bell, Dale Gregore
  • Keywords:

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