The authors describe the results of a survey they carried out in 2000 to determine the status of cultural sensitivity training in 16 Canadian medical schools using structured telephone interviews of associate and assistant deans or curriculum directors and curriculum coordinators. Their goal was to obtain a descriptive analysis of school-specific objectives, curriculum content, methods, and evaluation formats. The survey was prompted by the growing concern that in culturally diverse societies, medical education has failed to keep pace with the changing composition of the patient population.
Only one of the eight schools that integrated cultural sensitivity within their objectives made explicit mention of the topic in its clerkship evaluation form. While seven of the 16 schools did not have any statement on cultural sensitivity in their curricular objectives, they integrated cultural sensitivity in their curricula using various educational methods, with PBL cases, lectures, and small-group discussions being the commonest formats. These educational methods were primarily offered to students in their first and second years. Student participation was required, but program lengths ranged from two to 40 hours. Additional findings for each school are presented.
The authors conclude that while progress has been made, lack of adequate resources and a number of obstacles to inclusion of multicultural health content in curricula appear to remain ongoing problems. Further investment in faculty development and administrative staff support for a multicultural curriculum are needed, as is more research on effective curricular components