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Cultural Competency in Healthcare: How to Start Your Research Project

A collaborative project between the library and Office of Multicultural Affairs

Research Help

Starting a research project can feel daunting.  Let us help! Call or email library staff to help you identify the best resources for your topic.

Generally speaking, you can think of the locating resources in two broad categories:

Primary literature is composed of original research studies conducted on in vitro, animal, or human models. Most of the time, original research is published in peer reviewed journals. Data sets and conference papers would also be considered original research. Search the journal literature when you are trying to find the latest research on a healthcare topic.

You may also be asked to limit your research to peer reviewed articles.  The journal citation databases listed below allow you to restrict your search to sources that are considered more academically rigorous, otherwise known as a peer reviewed, or refereed journals.  Most of the journals covered in Medline/Pubmed are peer reviewed which is why this database does not include this limiting feature.

The secondary literature provides an analysis or evaluation of an original study or group of studies, summarizing these results in a concise and authoritative manner to provide the best available evidence for a problem. Examples of this type of information would be a textbook or a government report.  An amazing secondary resource of information available to the DMU community is Culture Vision. 

You will need to identify and utilize both of these broad categories of information to ensure you have conducted a comprehensive review of the literature.

Find Secondary Sources

UptoDate is an amazing resource for background information.  Another place to check is the library's book collection. You can search the library catalog to find both print and ebooks. To limit you search results to ebooks, select "ebooks" under the "material type" drop box. 

Materials related to the cultural competency collaboration between the library and the Office Of Multicultural Affairs can also be found by searching for the phrase "cultural competence" in the subject field of the library catalog.

cultural competence subject search in library catalog


Subject terms to consider when searching for material include:

  • Cultural Competency
  • Minorities
  • Minority
  • Ethnic Groups
  • Transcultural Medical Care
  • Discrimination in Medical Care
  • Health and Race
  • Healthcare Disparities

Another possible factor to consider in your search is the population or people you are interested in learning about.  When crafting a search strategy think of terms appropriate to the ethnicity, status, or situation of the people group in question. For example:

  • Transgender
  • Hispanic
  • African Americans
  • Elderly

If you search for these words/phrases as keywords in the library catalog, you will search not only the title and subjects of a record, but the table of contents information as well.  For example, you may find a relevant chapter within a larger text on diabetes care or health care disparities. 

example search in the library catalog

Find Primary Sources: The Journal Literature

What is Peer Review?

So your professor asked you to limit your research to peer reviewed articles. What does this mean?

Read the Ethical Documentation - What is Peer Review? guide to learn more.

Phone: 515-271-1537