Cultural competency preparedness in medical and health professions students - a collaborative study involving anatomy departments at 20 international universities

Anette Wu, Radhika Patel, Cecilia Brassett, Sean McWatt, Mandeep G. Sagoo, Richard Wingate, Chung Liang Chien, Hannes Traxler, Jens Waschke, Franziska Vielmuth, Anna Sigmund, Takeshi Sakurai, Yukari Yamada, Mina Zeroual, Jorgen Olsen, Salma E. Batti, Suvi Viranta-Kovanen, Kevin Keay, Shuji Kitahara, Neus Martinez-AbadiasMaria Esther Esteban-Torne, Jill Helms, Chiarella Sforza, Nicoletta Gagliano, Madeleine Norris, Derek Harmon, Masato Yasui, Midori Ichiko, Sammi Lee, Shaina Reid, Ariella Lang, Carol Kunzel, Michael Joseph, Leo Buehler, Mark Hardy, Snehal Patel, Paulette Bernd, Heike Kielstein, Geoffroy Noel, Alexander Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


INTRODUCTION: Training in cultural competency skills of medical and health professionals has become an important element of school curricula. Evaluation is often performed via self-assessment among student cohorts within one country. Only a few studies utilize any standardized and validated tests. Little is known about global comparisons of baseline levels of cultural competency preparedness among students in various health professions. The aim of the study is to assess the baseline level of cultural competency preparedness in junior medical and health professions students at 20 universities from around the world, utilizing a previously validated and standardized testing tool. Results from this study will aid medical educators in the assessment of the extent of cultural competency required to be included internationally in health education curricula. METHODS: 436 medical and students from various health professions students from 20 universities world-wide participated via an anatomy-based student exchange program (80% preclinical medical students). The students were given a validated questionnaire (1) to assess their preparedness in reference to cultural competency prior to the start of the program. The students were also asked to self-evaluate their cultural competency skills on a 5-point Likert-type scale ("none" to "a lot") encompassing different areas of competency (e.g., knowledge, intrapersonal and interpersonal skills, internal and external outcomes, attitudes). Data were analyzed in Excel for statistical analysis stratified by global region - North America (NA), Europe (EUR), United Kingdom (UK), East Asia (EA), and Australia (AUS) RESULTS: Data are presented as means (M) and their standard deviation. The highest self-assessment mean was for attitudes toward different cultures (4.4 ± 0.7) and lowest for knowledge about other cultures (3.4 ± 0.8). Regarding the question of general preparedness, the average score was 2.93 (± 1.0) in the validated tool (5-point Likert-type scale, "very unprepared" to "well prepared"); 4.6% of students felt "very well prepared", while 24% felt only "well prepared." A comparison by region showed the highest scores were from NA (3.14 ± 1.1), and the lowest scores from the UK (mean 2.74 ± 0.9). Regarding preparedness to evaluate patients from different cultures, 7% of students felt "very well prepared", and 24% felt "well prepared". Comparison between regions showed that the highest scores were found in EUR (3.1± 0.9). Regarding preparedness to treat patients with limited language proficiency, 14% of students felt that they were "very well prepared" (2.6; ± 1.1). A breakdown by regions showed that the highest scores were found in EUR (2.78 ± 1.0). Regarding preparedness to treat patients from ethnic minorities, 17% felt they were "very well prepared", and 31% felt "well prepared" (3.4 ± 1.1), with the UK scoring highest in this category (3.56 ± 1.1). DISCUSSION: Overall, there appears to be a discrepancy among junior students' self-assessments of their cultural competency skills and of their preparedness to treat patients, when compared to standardized test results. Cultural preparedness was similar across the evaluated regions. The data reveal that most regions in the world can benefit from cultural competency training for junior medical and health professions students. REFERENCE: 1. Green AR, Chun MBJ, Cervantes MC, Nudel JD, Duong JV, Krupat E, et al. Measuring Medical Students' Preparedness and Skills to Provide Cross-Cultural Care. Health equity. 2017;1(1):15-22.


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