Comparison of teaching strategies for cultural humility in physical therapy

Cultural competence and cultural humility are ongoing processes that healthcare professionals should continually strive for in order to provide effective and comprehensive plans of care for patients.

This 2-year, longitudinal, educational pilot study describes the levels of competency in second-year entry-level physical therapy students and compares the outcomes of three teaching strategies for cultural competence and cultural humility. All students received a standard 2-hour lecture; study volunteers were randomly assigned to one of two enriched educational groups, involving a standardized patient or a paper case enrichment.

Students shifted from initial levels of “culturally incompetent” and/or “culturally aware” to “culturally competent” as measured by the Inventory for Assessing the Process of Cultural Competence Among Healthcare Professionals-Revised. This shift was maintained after 1.5 yrs following the exposure. Because the enriched educational groups were underpowered, preliminary quantitative data are inconclusive, but qualitative feedback from students is strongly positive.

A minimal dose of a structured 2-hr lecture with a skilled instructor, who creates a safe environment for cultural learning, produced positive shifts toward greater cultural competence.

Five processes emerged for teaching cultural humility that may assist in designing comprehensive educational experiences on this topic. A framework for organizing course content is presented.

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