Cultural Competence in Intervention with Immigrants: A Comparative Analysis Between Health Professionals, Social Workers and Police Officers

Mariana Gonçalves, Marlene Matos


Introduction: Cultural diversity places increased demands on services to multicultural populations, so the development of cultural competence by help professionals is currently a concern in institutional practices.
Material and Methods: This study evaluated the perception of cultural competence of help professional of three distinct areas: health services, social services and criminal police. Through an online questionnaire, we questioned the perception of cultural competence, at four dimensions: cultural awareness, cultural knowledge, technical skills, and organizational support. There were 610 participants, mostly female (58%), with a mean age of 39.74 years, developing activity in the social area (37%), health (33%) or the police (30%).
Results: The professionals showed, in general, a positive perception of their cultural competence. Those who had formative experiences on the subject and had more time service, perceived themselves, significantly, as more culturally competent. Significant differences were found between professionals from different areas: health professionals were more effective in terms of technical skills, the social workers at the level of cultural knowledge and polices at the level of cultural awareness. Health professionals were the ones that showed a lower perception at the level of organizational support.
Discussion: Despite the positive perception that technicians have about their awareness and knowledge of the values, norms and customs of immigrant communities, they realize technical aptitude as less positive, showing difficulty in practical application of their knowledge.
Conclusions: Cultural competence has implications for good professional practice in serving multicultural populations, being urgent to invest in the development of culturally competent interventions to ensure more effective services, namely in hospitals and health centres.


Attitude of Health Personnel; Cultural Competency; Emigrants and Immigrants.

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