A longitudinal study of multicultural curriculum in medical education

Mary L. Zanetti1, An Dinh1, Laura Hunter1, Michael A. Godkin2 and Warren Ferguson2

1Office of Institutional Research, Evaluation and Assessment, University of Massachusetts Medical School, USA

2Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Massachusetts Medical School, USA

Submitted: 05/08/2013; Accepted: 01/02/2014; Published: 22/02/2014

Int J Med Educ. 2014; 5:37-44; doi: 10.5116/ijme.52ec.d075

© 2014 Mary L. Zanetti et al. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use of work provided the original work is properly cited. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Objectives: To evaluate impact a multicultural interclerk-ship had on students' perception of knowledge, interview skills, and empathy towards serving culturally diverse populations and role student demographics played in learning.

Methods: Data extracted from students' self-reported course evaluations and pre/post questionnaires during multiculturalism interclerkship across 11 academic years. Inquired students' opinion about four areas: effectiveness, small group leaders, usefulness, and overall experience. Subscale and item ratings were compared using trend tests including multivariate analyses.

Results: During studied years, 883 students completed course evaluation with high overall mean rating of 3.08 (SD=0.45) and subscale mean scores ranging from 3.03 to 3.30. Trends in three of four subscales demonstrated clear uptrend (p<0.0001). Positive correlations between ratings of leaders and "usefulness" were observed (p<0.0001). Pre/post matched dataset (n=967) indicated majority of items (19/23) had statistically significant higher post interclerkship ratings compared to pre scores with nine of 19 having statistically significant magnitudes of change. Questionnaire had high overall reliability (Cronbach alpha=0.8), and item-to-group correlations ranged from 0.40 to 0.68 (p <0.0001).

Conclusions: By increasing students' exposure and interaction with diverse patients, their knowledge, attitude, and skills were increased and expanded in positive manner. These findings might inform those who are interested in enhancing this important competence. This is especially true given increasing scrutiny this global topic is receiving within and across healthcare professions around the world.