Cultural diversity: blind spot in medical curriculum documents, a document analysis

E. Paternotte, J.P.I. Fokkema, K.A. van Loon, S. van Dulmen, F. Scheele

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7 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Cultural diversity among patients presents specific challenges to physicians. Therefore, cultural
diversity training is needed in medical education. In cases where strategic curriculum documents form the basis of
medical training it is expected that the topic of cultural diversity is included in these documents, especially if these
have been recently updated. The aim of this study was to assess the current formal status of cultural diversity
training in the Netherlands, which is a multi-ethnic country with recently updated medical curriculum documents.
Methods: In February and March 2013, a document analysis was performed of strategic curriculum documents for
undergraduate and postgraduate medical education in the Netherlands. All text phrases that referred to cultural
diversity were extracted from these documents. Subsequently, these phrases were sorted into objectives, training
methods or evaluation tools to assess how they contributed to adequate curriculum design.
Results: Of a total of 52 documents, 33 documents contained phrases with information about cultural diversity
training. Cultural diversity aspects were more prominently described in the curriculum documents for undergraduate
education than in those for postgraduate education. The most specific information about cultural diversity was found
in the blueprint for undergraduate medical education. In the postgraduate curriculum documents, attention to cultural
diversity differed among specialties and was mainly superficial.
Conclusions: Cultural diversity is an underrepresented topic in the Dutch documents that form the basis for actual
medical training, although the documents have been updated recently. Attention to the topic is thus unwarranted.
This situation does not fit the demand of a multi-ethnic society for doctors with cultural diversity competences.
Multi-ethnic countries should be critical on the content of the bases for their medical educational curricula.
Original languageEnglish
Article number176
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalBMC Medical Education
Publication statusPublished - 22 Aug 2014

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