Does cultural awareness education have an impact on students’ attitudes?

Date of this Version


Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Details

Citation only

Smith, J. D., & Sargeant, S. (2015). Does cultural awareness education have an impact on students’ attitudes? Paper presented at AMEE Conference. 5-9 September, 2015. Glasgow, Scotland.

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© Copyright, The Authors, 2015



All over the world people are conducting cultural awareness programs in an effort to educate health professionals about working in a culturally safe way with their patients, in an effort to improve health outcomes. However there is little evidence that any of these programs have a long term impact on the cultural safety of the students practice once graduated. In fact recent research indicates that training programs have been largely ineffective in improving doctors cultural skills, their behaviour or health outcomes. In fact there is anecdotal evidence that some approaches to cross cultural education are having the reverse effect and creating hostility and racism.

Summary of Work:

Since 2012 Bond University has been conducting an award winning three year structured program Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health program with its undergraduate medical students. Alongside this program they have conducted 5 year longitudinal study to measure the impact of these cultural awareness activities on student’s attitudes and behaviours using a validated cultural awareness and cultural competence scale survey. The survey is administered pre and post immersion at year 1, in year 3 and year 5.

Summary of Results:

The early results of the first three years of the cultural awareness study (n=280) indicate that there is an attitudinal and behavioural shift in several areas as a result of the educational program.

Discussion and Conclusions:

This paper will report on the initial outcomes of this longitudinal study for the first time. Sharing this initial information will assist others who are teaching into these programs.

Take-home messages:

Cultural awareness education can have a lasting impact on student attitudes.