A critical review of cultural competence frameworks and models in medical and health professional education: A meta-ethnographic synthesis: BEME Guide No. 79

Shuangyu Li, Katherine Miles, Riya E George, Candan Ertubey, Peter Pype, Jia Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Cultural competence resides at the core of undergraduate and postgraduate medical and health professional education. The evolution of studies on cultural competence has resulted in the existence of multiple theoretical frameworks and models, each emphasising certain elements of culturally appropriate care, but generally lacking in providing a coherent and systematic approach to teaching this subject.

METHODS: Following a meta-ethnographic approach, a systematic search of five databases was undertaken to identify relevant articles published between 1990 and 2022. After citation searching and abstract and full article screening, a consensus was reached on 59 articles for final inclusion. Key constructs and concepts of cultural competence were synthesised and presented as themes, using the lens of critical theory.

RESULTS: Three key themes were identified: competences; roles and identities; structural competency. Actionable concepts and themes were incorporated into a new transformative ACT cultural model that consists of three key domains: activate consciousness, connect relations, and transform to true cultural care.

CONCLUSION: This critical review provides an up-to-date synthesis of studies that conceptualise cultural competence frameworks and models in international medical and healthcare settings. The ACT cultural model provides a set of guiding principles for culturally appropriate care, to support high-quality educational interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1085-1107
Number of pages23
JournalMedical Teacher
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2023


  • Humans
  • Cultural Competency
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Clinical Competence
  • Anthropology, Cultural
  • Education, Professional

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