BACKGROUND: Whilst we live in multicultural societies most health researchers tend to take the cultural perspective of the majority ethnic group at the expense of the perspective of minority ethnic groups. AIM: This paper discusses the need for the development of culturally competent health researchers in all areas of research and proposes a model for the achievement of this. DESIGN: A snapshot review of research textbooks used in nursing curricula was conducted to identify whether culturally competent research was being promoted. RESULTS: The review found that whilst a few textbooks touched on ethnicity, race and culture, none of them addressed the issue of cultural competence. Subsequently the authors adapted their existing model of culturally competent health care practice, and in this paper they propose it as a model for the development of culturally competent researchers. DISCUSSION: The model put forward by the authors consists of four concepts: cultural awareness, cultural knowledge, cultural sensitivity and cultural competence. A culturally competent researcher is one who is able to apply the related skills and knowledge in project design, data collection, analysis, report writing and dissemination. Furthermore, the authors identify two layers of cultural competence, those of culture-generic (knowledge and skills that are applicable across ethnic groups) and culture-specific competence (knowledge and skills that relate to a particular ethnic group). The relationship between these two layers is a dynamic and spiralling process as illustrated by the model. CONCLUSION: Current health policy in many developed countries focuses on inequalities of health and managing diversity, including ethnicity. Thus the authors conclude that the development of culturally competent researchers will lead to both valid research and culturally competent practice by health care professionals.
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