Problem Statement and Background

Cross-cultural experiences are in increasing demand by both graduate and undergraduate medical students, yet the benefits of these experiences are not clearly established.


A review of the literature was conducted to identify articles on the outcomes of cross-cultural experiences. Themes were identified and categorized into domains.


Forty-two studies were found; 27 articles used qualitative methods, nine used quantitative methods, and six used both. Most (24) were from the nursing literature, 18 were from the medical literature. All studies reported positive outcomes along four domains: students’ professional development, students’ personal development, medical school benefits, and host population benefits.


Studies reviewed were primarily case controlled or case series. Future research is needed that more clearly defines outcome measures and uses more rigorous methods. Although results suggest positive outcomes in all domains, additional research is needed before cross-cultural rotations can be supported based on evidence.