Need for ensuring cultural competence in medical programmes of European universities

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

BACKGROUND: Europe is becoming more social and cultural diverse as a result of the increasing migration, but the medical doctors are largely unprepared. The medical education programmes and teachers have not evolved in line with development of the population. Culturally competent curricula and teachers are needed, to ensure cultural competence among medical doctors and to tackle inequalities in health between different ethnic groups. The objective of this EU financed study is therefore to provide a snapshot of the role of cultural competence in European medical educational programmes.

METHODS: A questionnaire was developed in order to uncover strengths and weaknesses regarding cultural competence in the European medical education programmes. The questionnaire consisted of 32 questions. All questions had an evidence box to support the informants' understanding of the questions. The questionnaire was sent by email to the 12 European project partners. 12 completed questionnaires were returned.

RESULTS: Though over half of the participating medical programmes have incorporated how to handle social determinants of health in the curriculum most are lacking focus on how medical professionals' own norms and implicit attitudes may affect health care provision as well as abilities to work effectively with an interpreter. Almost none of the participating medical programmes evaluate the students on cultural competence learning outcomes. Most medical schools participating in the survey do not offer cultural competence training for teachers, and resources spent on initiatives related to cultural competences are few. Most of the participating medical programmes acknowledge that the training given to the medical students is not adequate for future jobs in the health care service in their respective country regarding cultural competence.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate that there are major deficiencies in the commitment and practice within the participating educational programs and there are clear potentials for major improvements regarding cultural competence in programmes. Key challenges include making lasting changes to the curriculum and motivating and engaging stakeholders (teachers, management etc.) within the organisation to promote and allocate resources to cultural competence training for teachers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number21
JournalBMC Medical Education
Volume19
Issue number1
Number of pages8
ISSN1472-6920
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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