Doctor of Philosophy
Existing evidence suggests that disparities exist in the use of mental health services by Arabs in the U.S. While there are likely many factors that contribute, lack of cultural competence of mental health providers is one potentially important barrier for mental health service use among racial/ethnic minorities, including Arabs. The primary purpose of this study was to identify and examine factors related to the development and existence of cultural competence toward Arabs. Variables measuring demographics, professional characteristics, familiarity with Arabs, prior experience and knowledge of Arabs, and readiness for change were tested with a randomly selected sample of mental health providers in Northern Virginia.
In order to assess baseline levels of cultural competence toward Arabs, as well as further define the potential relationships of these variables to cultural competence, a new measure of cultural competence toward Arabs [CC-A] was developed and initially validated through a focus group and pilot test. It was subsequently administered to a group of mental health providers in Northern Virginia to further assess the validity of the underlying constructs being tested and to explore relationships between this measure and other key factors. Factor analyses revealed that a unidimensional construct of cultural competence toward Arabs was being measured.
Bivariate and multivariate analyses examined the way this measure related to these constructs. Regression analyses revealed that higher levels of cultural competence were significantly related to higher readiness for change, higher prior levels of knowledge toward Arabs, a greater degree of familiarity with Arabs, and utilizing books as a source of knowledge about Arabs. A model inclusive of these factors explained 19% of the variance in mean scores on the CC-A.
Implications of these findings for research, clinical practice, and graduate training are discussed. These include consideration of alternative models for cultural competence, an assessment of additional methodologies to measure cultural competence, and the development and implementation of cultural competence interventions.
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