Dental students' attitudes toward treating diverse patients: effects of a cross-cultural patient-instructor program

J Dent Educ. 2008 Oct;72(10):1128-34.


This article describes the effects of a cross-cultural patient-instructor (PI) program on dental students' attitudes toward diversity. PIs were individuals from the community trained to portray specific simulated patients who presented cross-cultural challenges to students. Dental students interviewed PIs during two rotations, one in their junior and one in their senior year. Using a retrospective pretest-posttest design, after completing each rotation, students reported their likelihood of engaging in certain desirable diversity thoughts and actions before versus after each PI rotation. Seventy-three students completed the first cross-cultural rotation, and eighty-two students completed the second. Each rotation improved students' diversity-related attitudes. The first rotation, in their junior year, had slightly greater effect on these outcomes than the second rotation, in their senior year. Students also reported very positive evaluations of the course. These findings suggest that students' attitudes toward diversity can be modified. PIs are a creative way to promote cross-cultural patient care with health professions students, making them more open to thinking about, discussing, and engaging in patient-oriented, diversity-related activities.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Competency-Based Education / methods*
  • Connecticut
  • Cultural Competency / education*
  • Dentist-Patient Relations
  • Education, Dental / methods*
  • Humans
  • Patient Simulation*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Role Playing
  • Students, Dental / psychology*