Skip to main content

Delivering Responsive and Respectful Health Care: Providing CLAS

A four-part introduction to culturally and linguistically appropriate services (CLAS)

To promote health equity, Comagine Health is providing a series of articles to help you and your organization become more familiar with the National CLAS Standards. The purpose of this series is to provide you with training resources for implementing CLAS standards, tools to develop a CLAS implementation plan and resources to update beneficiary-engagement products that will ensure that CLAS considerations are included to advance health equity.

Part 3: Providing CLAS

As a health care provider, you have medical expertise about treating a disease or condition and are charged with providing high-quality care and improving patient outcomes. Learning about a patient’s social identities, cultural background, life experiences, values and communication needs is key to providing high-quality, patient-centered care.

The following strategies may help you provide culturally and linguistically appropriate services:

  1. Be aware of the verbal, nonverbal and written aspects of communication, and understand the relationship between communication and your patient’s cultural identity.
  2. Communicate health information to patients in a way that almost anyone will be able to understand.
  3. Consider using the “Teach Back Method” — a way of checking understanding by asking patients to describe in their own words what they need to know or do.
  4. Ask all patients for their preferred language. If that language is not English, you must arrange for language assistance services.
  5. When possible, utilize the LEARN model:
    1. Listen with empathy for the patient’s perception of the problem.
    2. Explain your perception of the issue.
    3. Acknowledge and discuss differences and similarities.
    4. Recommend a treatment plan that is developed with the client’s involvement, including culturally appropriate aspects.
    5. Negotiate the final treatment plan between you and your patient.
  6. Listen with compassion. Respectfully obtain information and questions from the patient to build trust between you and your patient.
  7. Make treatment decisions based on both the provider’s and patient’s expertise, as part of a team by using the SHARE Approach. Five steps of this approach include:
    1. Seek your patient’s participation.
    2. Help your patient explore and compare treatment options.
    3. Assess your patient’s values and preferences.
    4. Reach a decision with your patient.
    5. Evaluate your patient’s decision.

The strategies above will help you provide culturally and linguistically appropriate services. Eliciting and listening to that information in a respectful and compassionate manner is key to providing high-quality care.