Cultural Competency Interventions During Medical School: a Scoping Review and Narrative Synthesis

Juan R. Deliz, Fayola F. Fears, Kai E. Jones, Jenny Tobat, Douglas Char, Will R. Ross

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Many medical accreditation bodies agree that medical students should be trained to care for diverse patient populations. However, the teaching methods that medical schools employ to accomplish this goal vary widely. The purpose of this work is to summarize current cultural competency teaching for medical students and their evaluation methods. A scoping review was completed by searching the databases PubMed, Scopus, MedEdPORTAL, and MEDLINE for the search terms “medical education” and “cultural competency” or “cultural competence.” Results were summarized using a narrative synthesis technique. One hundred fifty-four articles on cultural competency interventions for medical students were systematically identified from the literature and categorized by teaching methods, length of intervention, and content. Fifty-six articles had a general focus, and ninety-eight articles were focused on specific populations including race/ethnicity, global health, socioeconomic status, language, immigration status, disability, spirituality at the end of life, rurality, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer. About 54% of interventions used lectures as a teaching modality, 45% of the interventions described were mandatory, and 9.7% of interventions were not formally evaluated. The authors advocate for expansion and more rigorous analysis of teaching methods, teaching philosophies, and outcome evaluations with randomized controlled trials that compare the relative effectiveness of general and population-specific cultural competency interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)568-577
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020


  • cultural competence
  • cultural humility
  • culture
  • diversity
  • medical education


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