Cultural Competence and Humility in Infectious Diseases Clinical Practice and Research

Sophia A. Hussen, Krutika Kuppalli, José Castillo-Mancilla, Roger Bedimo, Nada Fadul, Ighovwerha Ofotokun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Infectious diseases as a specialty is tilted toward social justice, and practitioners are frequently on the front lines of the battle against health inequity in practices that are diverse and sometimes cross international borders. Whether caring for patients living with the human immunodeficiency virus, tuberculosis, or Ebola, infectious diseases practitioners often interact with those at the margins of societies (eg, racial/ethnic/sexual/gender minorities), who disproportionately bear the brunt of these conditions. Therefore, cultural barriers between providers and patients are often salient in the infectious diseases context. In this article, we discuss cultural competence broadly, to include not only the knowledge and the skills needed at both the organizational and the individual levels to provide culturally appropriate care, but also to include “cultural humility”-a lifelong process of learning, self-reflection, and self-critique. To enhance the quality and the impact of our practices, we must prioritize cultural competence and humility and be mindful of the role of culture in the patient-provider-system interactions, in our larger healthcare systems, and in our research agendas and workforce development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S535-S542
JournalJournal of Infectious Diseases
Issue numberSupplement_6
StatePublished - Oct 15 2020


  • Cultural competence
  • Healthcare
  • Infectious diseases
  • Social justice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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