Schools and school-based health centers (SBHC) are a critical source of care for many students, families and communities. Systemic factors within healthcare can lead to inequitable outcomes impacted by factors that include, social drivers of health, discrimination and lack of access to quality health care which influences the care received by many.

By providing culturally effective health care (CEHC), school-based health professionals (such as SBHC staff, school nurses and other school health services staff) can help increase equitable access and outcomes for the physical, emotional and behavioral health (which includes mental health services and substance use disorders) needs of students. Understanding and working within the complex systems and social factors that contribute to health is vital to addressing these concerns.

School-based health professionals have the opportunity to address the physical, mental, emotional and behavioral health needs of students by providing culturally effective health care (CEHC) that includes an understanding of how complex systems and social factors contribute to health.

The AAP defines CEHC as the delivery of care within the context of appropriate provider knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of all cultural distinctions, leading to optimal health outcomes, quality of life, and family satisfaction. To support health care professionals in providing CEHC to a diverse patient population, educational opportunities and resources are needed to advance understanding and address differences in cultural attributes and attitudes between health professionals and their patients, patients’ families.


Case Study Activities

Case study activities with suggested tips for consideration when engaging with students through a CEHC lens.

Case Study 1
This case study explores how having - and not recognizing - unknown biases can affect health care access and outcomes. It provides you and/or your team to the opportunity to review and reflect on an interaction between a student and school staff.
Case Study 2
This case study explores the importance of building meaningful and trusting relationships to support student wellbeing. It provides you and/or your team the opportunity to review and reflect on an interaction between a student and school staff.


Learning Bursts on Culturally-Effective Health Care in Schools

The AAP has developed trainings to provide school health staff and related health professionals with an opportunity to review topics related to culturally-effective health care in schools with their team. These trainings are intended to be facilitated by school and other health professionals to provide training and encourage discussion in short 15-20 minute presentations. The following learning bursts include content shared during a series of learning communities on culturally-effective health care in schools.

Health Equity in Schools: Understand and identify ways health disparities, health equity, and equality appear in school communities, recognize how COVID-19 and other health conditions disproportionately affect marginalized students and their families and learn how to apply an equity lens to strategies for supporting school-based health.

Culturally Effective Health Care: Identify guiding principles of CEHC, how CEHC appears in the school-based health care setting, approaches to address the importance of CEHC and challenges to CEHC integration.

Community Partnerships & Engagement: Learn the levels of community engagement and support needed to improve student health and wellness, ways to identify and develop partnerships and strategies for community engagement.

Access the learning bursts on CEHC and other learning bursts in our Learning Burst Library.

View Learning Bursts


Tools and Resources

The following is a compilation of tools and resources, including instruction on considerations for school health professionals as they begin and/or advance their work in providing CEHC.

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American Academy of Pediatrics