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Cultural Competency in Healthcare: Populations

A collaborative project between the library and Office of Multicultural Affairs

Why This Guide?

These guides are developed with a focus on health disparities. Health disparities are described as "preventable differences in the burden of disease, injury, violence, or opportunities to achieve optimal health that are experienced by populations that have been disadvantaged by their social or economic status, geographic location, and environment." (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What is Health Equity? Retrieved March 14, 2024, from

There are many types of health disparities including low birth weights or higher rates of exposure (and many more) that can be due to a variety of factors including: socioeconomic status, systemic forms of exclusion and discrimination, and environmental factors that often intertwine in their origins and outcomes. 

Additionally, this section is inspired by the Diversity Health Series, initially created by Kaiser Permente. DMU is one of the few medical schools to have this learning tool. All films from the DHS are housed under the Diversity and Multicultural Affairs' Panopto Folder.  The DHS has been embedded into the curriculum of several DMU programs, but is also offered through the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs every semester.


Initially developed by Kimberlé Crenshaw, Intersectionality is an analytical framework used to study how societies treat people based on their various social and political identities, such as their gender, ethnicity, and sexuality. Depending on those identities, a person may be privileged or oppressed. 

Below are links that describe, examine, and bolster understanding about intersectionality.

Diversity Health Series @ DMU

The populations featured on this guide correspond to the Diversity and Health Series topics presented by the Office of Multicultural Affairs. Is there a population or health care issue that you would like to see represented on this guide? Let us know!

The Diversity Health Series was developed by Kaiser Permanente and is used as a teaching tool at Des Moines University.  Dr. Rich Salas, Chief Diversity Officer, and Assistant Professor in the College of Medicine, has completed the Kaiser Permanente Diversity Health Master level facilitator certification training. For more information please contact the Dr. Rich Salas at 515-271-1709.

The DHS film series includes the following videos:

  • The Spirit is Able - focus on the culture and health of People with Disabilities 
  • OUT - focus on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex (GLBTI) culture and health
  • Viva Bien - focus on Latino culture and health
  • Touching the Dream - focus on African American culture and health
  • Journey of 10,000 Miles - focus on Asian/Pacific Islander culture and health
  • Hozho - Life in Balance - focus on Native American and Alaskan Native culture and health
  • Children of Adam - focus on the Greater Middle East culture and health
  • Side by Side: Generations Working Together - focus on 4 generations in the workplace and healthcare
  • In Our Boots: The Veterans Journey