Katharine D. Thomas1& Susie Schofield2

1Department of Family Medicine, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Israel; 2Centre for Medical Education, University of Dundee, United Kingdom


Context: In the twentieth century “cultural” courses in medical education focused on imparting knowledge about ethnic and racial minorities. A new consensus has developed that emphasises a broader definition of culture: education should promote generalisable skills enabling effective interactions with all patients in our culturally complex world. In New Zealand, cultural competency is frequently taught within courses on the indigenous Māori people. This study evaluated whether a generalisable cultural competency intervention was acceptable and effective in this setting.

Methods: A generalisable cultural competency workshop was run for 17 general practitioners. A self-assessment questionnaire was completed by attendees and by a control group of 19 GPs. Participants provided feedback during the seminar and through standardised evaluation forms. Four medical education professionals were interviewed to explore their views on cultural competency education. The interviews were transcribed and thematically analysed.

Results: The questionnaires showed a non-significant, post-seminar increase in total cultural competency score by the seminar participants as compared with the control group (p= .33). Feedback was positive, with all respondents considering the seminar relevant to their needs. The interviewees supported generalisable cultural competency but lacked consensus around whether it should stand-alone or be embedded in ethnically-focused education.

Conclusions: This pilot study shows that participants found generalisable cultural competency education acceptable and that they perceived an improvement in their skills. Medical educators disputed the role of generalisable cultural competency. Further research is needed into how it can be utilised in New Zealand.

Keywords:         Medical Education, Cultural Competency, Physicians

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