Assessing Patient Experiences of Providers' Cultural Competence and Health Literacy Practices: CAHPS(R) Item Sets

Medical Care
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The supplement to the September 2012 issue of Medical Care focuses on the development and evaluation of new questions, or "item sets," for use with the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) surveys. The supplement is dedicated to the late Chuck Darby, who was a founding father of CAHPS. All 12 articles are freely available at:

The CAHPS Cultural Competence Item Set was developed to promote and measure the provision of care that is culturally and linguistically appropriate. Patients are asked to report on their experiences in the health care system with issues such as language access, trust, complementary and alternative medicine, communication, and discrimination. Items from the  CAHPS Item Sets for Addressing Health Literacy range from questions about communication with health care providers and medicine instructions, to whether patients are offered help filling out forms. According to a foreword by AHRQ's Director Carolyn Clancy, CIndy Brach, and Melinda Abrams, the health literacy item sets "break new ground by measuring, from the patient's perspective, to what extent health care professionals have succeeded in reducing health literacy demands."

The CAHPS Cultural Competence Item Set and the Clinician/Group CAHPS Item Set for Addressing Health Literacy are available at:


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