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Fam Med. 2004 Mar;36(3):199-203.

Evaluating the effect of cultural competency training on medical student attitudes.

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Department of Family Medicine, UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, Newark, 07107, USA.



Developing skills for taking care of patients from a wide variety of backgrounds is a growing area of importance in medical education. Incorporating cultural competency training into undergraduate medical education is an accreditation requirement. Although there are an increasing number of such curricula reported in the literature, there has been little evaluation of their effectiveness. We describe a new undergraduate cultural competency curriculum, the reliability of an instrument for assessing student attitudes in this area, and the effects of our curriculum on student attitudes.


Two introductory clinical medicine courses focused on the importance of providing culturally competent care to all patients. The courses used problem-based learning and a history-taking mnemonic to teach students to assess patients' perspectives. The authors verified the reliability of the Health Beliefs Attitudes Survey (HBAS) and used it to determine changes in students' attitudes on issues relating to cultural competency.


The HBAS reliably measured four cultural competency concepts. Student attitudes regarding the importance of assessing patient opinions and determining health beliefs improved significantly following the courses.


The method used here to teach students cultural competency skills early in medical school positively affects student attitudes on cultural competency issues.

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