Analysis of Cross-Cultural Leadership in CDC


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Cultural diversity has risen to become an issue affecting almost all aspects of human life.  Culture can be explained in various elements such as being a member of a given group, linguistic orientation, racial and ethnic affiliation, as well as a system of beliefs. In the medical field, cultural diversity has been shown to affect different aspects of decision making and service delivery. Among other aspects that cultural diversity affects service delivery and operations of healthcare organizations is on decisions regarding attending to patients from different cultures and embracing inclusive in employment. The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) is an American healthcare organization, which takes the lead in embracing cultural diversity as regards employees and attending to culturally diverse patients (National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control, & Prevention (Eds.), 2015). The justification of this paper is to provide a persuasive analysis of how the CDC works with patients from diverse cultures, evaluate the weaknesses that would be pointed in service delivery, as well as outline the appropriate recommendations for improvement.

CDC Background Information

Although it is a national public health institute, the CDC operates with the primary goal of protecting the public health and ensuring people’s safety through disease control and prevention. Besides focusing primarily on infectious diseases, the organization engages in research for the non-infectious diseases with the aim of improving the healthcare for the US citizens (National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control, & Prevention (Eds.) 2015). The CDC’s mission is to become a reflection of the population that it serves. It is worth appreciating that the operations of CDC are global and that the organization has over seventeen thousand employees. As the organization’s operations, it is clear that it has to interact with diverse cultures. As such, the CDC had to formulate instruments and policies to guide the operations in the culturally different environments. Besides having the diversity observable in the composition of the employees, the organization has to meet patients from different cultural backgrounds (Alegria, Atkins, Farmer, Slaton & Stelk, 2010). The philosophy of the management of the organization encourages the employees to illustrate high levels of cultural adeptness in the areas of operations. The diversity of race, gender, and ethnicity are what makes the CDC organization unique in the healthcare industry in the United States.

CDC and Culture

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Cultural diversity in the medical field has become a priority with the center for disease control and prevention. Therefore, the organization has shown commitment in embracing cultural diversity of the patients by investing in appropriate communication strategies, patient motivation, and problem-solving mechanisms (Alegria, Atkins, Farmer, Slaton, & Stelk, 2010).

  1. Communication

Different cultures have different languages and literacy skills by which they communicate health issues. Therefore, the CDC organization is well aware of the need to harness the skills in communication so as to effectively communicate with the patients from different cultural backgrounds. Communication can become a critical hindrance to effective service delivery by the CDC (Singer, 2012). Therefore, with this understanding, the CDC organization has been committed to improving the effectiveness of communication by evaluating and recognizing possible barriers and bridges associated with different cultures (Singer, 2012). The more the cultural barriers between the service providers and the patients, the more the risk of miscommunication and that would affect the effectiveness of the CDC in service delivery.  Effective communication, therefore, facilitates recognizing and bridging the cultural differences between the healthcare givers and the patients (Singer, 2012).

It is worth appreciating that culture can be useful in facilitating communication and can equally hinder it (Kahan, 2010). As a part of a group’s culture, the members get systems, which explain when and how the people communicate. Therefor, there are certain codes of communication that are being used in a given group and which outsiders would not easily understand. Similarly, when the specific language particular to certain groups of people is used in an open context, the same would adversely affect communication (Kahan, 2010). Therefore, the CDC healthcare organization is well aware of the effects and has therefore embraced strategic procedures and strategies to overcome these effects.

First, the need to overcome the communication barriers associated with the cultural factors, the CDC has put in place efforts for having employees who are well acquainted with the different cultural backgrounds of the people being served. Secondly, the organization has invested in having translation and interpretation services. Accordingly, the organization seeks people who are well versed with the cultures of the target population to act as interpreters and translators for ease of communication with the nonnatives. Worth appreciating is that not all people from a literate society are well skilled in numeracy and reading skills (Kahan, 2010). As such, the organization seeking to offer medical services to the people would need to hire the services of translators and interpreters.

  1. Patient motivation

Patients and the communities at large have been the primary target of the CDC organization. Therefore, the organization strives to ensure that the patients receive the highest quality service possible. Among other areas that the healthcare provider has focused on is in the areas of motivating the patients. Worth appreciating is that the nurses and other healthcare providers in the CDC organization provide education, care and strategies for case management for the ever increasing diverse population of patients (Woulfe, Oliver, Zahner & Siemering, 2010). Nevertheless, the patients and communities at large face a myriad of challenges in the process of acquiring and applying the health literacy skills. The primary hindrance to the course as identified through research by the CDC has been the low levels of patient motivation. The findings would also point out that the challenge of integrating the divergent linguistic and cultural considerations has equally been an explaining factor to the low rates of patient motivation (Woulfe, Oliver, Zahner & Siemering, 2010).

Therefore, the CDC has been particularly concerned with improving health literacy rates for the patients and the communities with the intention of improving the patient motivation. Among other efforts that the organization has embraced for improving health literacy levels have been in health campaigns. Secondly, the CDC has invested heavily in research and development and the findings published and availed for public use. Besides, the research findings have been integrated into the government policy making processes.

On the other hand, improved interaction has been another strategy by which the CDC organization has been using to motivate the patients. Improving the rates of interaction has been perceived as an effective strategy to motivate patients (Woulfe, Oliver, Zahner & Siemering, 2010). The need to improve the rates of motivation has been shown to stem from the research findings that patients would be de-motivated to seek medical attention by the perceived incompetence in communication and interaction. Accordingly, improving the rates and efficiency of communication of the patients would be thought as a great strategy to increase the rate and preference of the patients too seeks medical attention (Singer, 2012). Similarly, better communication would facilitate the rate of service delivery by the caregivers. CDC would establish that lowly motivated patients, especially those associated with low self-esteem for the inability to express oneself would be highly likely to miss the medical attention.

Other elements of patient motivation have been together with facilitating ease of acquiring services from the healthcare providers. Many patients would fear to seek medical attention for the perceived complications in accessing healthcare services (Kataoka, Novins & Santiago, 2010). Creating awareness through public campaigns has been the main tool of interaction used to reach the communities. Through the campaigns, the CDC would be able to ensure that patients are empowered to access the health services. Indeed, through awareness, patients would be enlightened on their rights to medical attention and supportive services. Therefore, the patients would be motivated and encouraged towards pursuing better health (Kataoka, Novins & Santiago, 2010).

  1. Problem-solving mechanisms and teamwork

CDC works in the field of public health through improving and protecting the health of communities and families, especially by the promotion of healthy living. Other elements of the specialization of CDC are together with research for diseases, detection, prevention and the control of contagious diseases (Kataoka, Novins & Santiago, 2010). The CDC has established the effects of team orientation towards the realization of the organization’s objectives and goals. In orientation, one evaluates the social-cultural way of interaction as depicted by the leadership style embraced and the willingness of the subjects to follow (Singer, 2012). While the CDC organization is not political, the organization has a high regard for the interaction of the patients and the organization’s employees. Accordingly, CDC works towards harmonizing the interactions of the employees and the patients for quality care delivery. The CDC has a well-established chain of command by which the affairs of the organization are run. Besides, the team spirit embraced in the organization has facilitated the success of the organization in delivering healthcare services to multicultural societies in the United States and beyond (Woulfe, Oliver, Zahner & Siemering, 2010). However, the patients would have to be enlightened on the working of CDC to embrace the ideology and the culture of service delivery in the organization. Nevertheless, the CDC has made a great impact in reaching to the patients amidst the challenges identified regarding the orientations of the teams of service providers and the people.

  1. Program focus and activities

CDC embraces various programs or activities that are in line with the organization’s agenda for improving the population’s health care (Kahan, 2010). The mechanisms by which the programs are embraced depend on the target particular groups and the intervention mechanisms. For instance, the organization focuses on addressing the menace of drugs through drug management schemes for the various groups of people such as the adults, the students, and the children. The indicators of the severity of the challenge are measured through scientific analysis of the short-term effects and the level of incidence (Woulfe, Oliver, Zahner & Siemering, 2010). The unintentional medication poisoning has been a leading cause of emergency cases involving the children. Similarly, the older generations are twice as likely as the children to suffer from the incidences of drug poisoning. Other risk groups are students and women. Accordingly, CDC takes an active role in developing programs that target the specific risk groups. For instance, the coordinated school health program is informed by the need to have school curriculum well prepared for the holistic development of the students (Kahan, 2010). Through the coordinated school health, CDC focuses on health education, physical education, family and community involvement, healthy schooling environment psychological counseling services, and general health services. In that aspect, the CDC organization is dedicated towards the course of improved health for the general public and particular patients. Through these education-based programs, CDC can raise awareness of other cultural issues that would be blamed for contributing to the challenge of drugs and substance abuse in the society.

Other programs and activities that are particular to CDC and are related to culture are such programs aimed at mobilizing patients for conventional treatment (Singer, 2012). Many patients would be more inclined to seeking traditional medicine or religious intervention. Through research, CDC has identified that many communities, especially the Latinos have had a tendency of ignoring the conventional medical intervention in preference of the traditional curative medicine. Other decisions that are informed by ignorance contribute to higher disease burden and through focus activities and programs, the CDC assists the communities to overcome them (Kahan, 2010). Other cultural activities such as female genital mutilation have been shown to have adverse health effects on patients. However, increased ignorance in the communities practicing the rite contributes to the high rate of incidence. However, CDC would come in and develop intervention tools, which would go a long way in minimizing the health impact of the cultural practices.


The CDC organization has been shown to devote much of its resources and time towards intervention mechanism and research on the infectious diseases. However, this paper has focused on the working of the organization as a healthcare organization in the US and the effort towards overcoming the cultural challenges. Accordingly, the organization has been committed to eradicating the effects of culture on healthcare delivery. Therefore, CDC has had special attention on overcoming the cultural barrier through communication, patient motivation, better problem-solving mechanisms, team orientation, and development of particular programs and activities among others. While the effectiveness of the intervention tools highlighted would be confirmed through scientific studies, CDC takes special attention on the role of relations as created between the service providers and the patients. Culture has been shown to have a significant influence on the willingness and ability of individuals to pursue conventional medicine. Therefore, the success of CDC in leading in healthcare provision depends on the ability of the organization to overcome the shortcomings resulting from cultural practices and beliefs. However, this paper confirms the dedication of the organization towards ensuring that universal health is realized through overcoming cultural pitfalls. However, the organization has had to overcome the challenges associated with cultural frameworks and public goodwill. Beyond designing and developing the most timely and informed programs and policies, the organization has had to overcome these challenges by developing the most suited systems and policies for use by the management teams and the employees.


In spite of such noted success in overcoming the cultural barrier when targeting the patients, CDC lags behind in mobilizing interagency coordinated efforts. This paper, therefore, recommends that CDC embraces the approach of involving various healthcare agencies in reaching out to the culturally diverse communities (Woulfe, Oliver, Zahner & Siemering, 2010). The effectiveness of using various agencies would be in the collaboration on ideas and outreach systems. Furthermore, CDC would consider increasing community mobilization and awareness through mass media and social platforms. The advantage of increased awareness would be confirmed in improved patient confidence towards the programs embraced by the organization.

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