Research Article
Issue Date: July/August 2020
Published Online: June 09, 2020
Updated: June 22, 2020
Moving From Cultural Competence to Cultural Humility in Occupational Therapy: A Paradigm Shift
Author Affiliations
  • Joy Agner, MS, MA, OTR/L, is PhD Candidate, Department of Community and Cultural Psychology, University of Hawaii at Mānoa, Honolulu; joyagner@hawaii.edu
Article Information
Health and Wellness / Education of OTs and OTAs / Neurologic Conditions / Columns: The Issue Is . . .
Research Article   |   June 09, 2020
Moving From Cultural Competence to Cultural Humility in Occupational Therapy: A Paradigm Shift
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, June 2020, Vol. 74, 7404347010. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2020.038067
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, June 2020, Vol. 74, 7404347010. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2020.038067
Abstract

As the U.S. population becomes increasingly multicultural, occupational therapy practitioners must be adept at working with diverse populations. For the past 15–20 yr, many occupational therapy scholars have recognized this need, and in response, they have promoted cultural competence training. Although cultural competence has provided an important initial conceptual framework for the field, I argue that it is time to move toward a practice of cultural humility, which is defined by flexibility; awareness of bias; a lifelong, learning-oriented approach to working with diversity; and a recognition of the role of power in health care interactions. In this article, I present three main arguments why cultural humility is a more useful and critical conceptual framework than cultural competence, and I review preliminary research that examines the influence of cultural humility on patient experience. I conclude by briefly describing how cultural humility can be incorporated in occupational therapy curricula and applied in clinical and community practice settings.

What This Article Adds: This article provides a clear articulation of what cultural humility is, how it differs from cultural competence, and how it can be applied in occupational therapy.