Global health education in Swedish medical schools

Scand J Public Health. 2015 Nov;43(7):687-93. doi: 10.1177/1403494815591720. Epub 2015 Jul 3.


Aims: Global health education is increasingly acknowledged as an opportunity for medical schools to prepare future practitioners for the broad health challenges of our time. The purpose of this study was to describe the evolution of global health education in Swedish medical schools and to assess students' perceived needs for such education.

Methods: Data on global health education were collected from all medical faculties in Sweden for the years 2000-2013. In addition, 76% (439/577) of all Swedish medical students in their final semester answered a structured questionnaire.

Results: Global health education is offered at four of Sweden's seven medical schools, and most medical students have had no global health education. Medical students in their final semester consider themselves to lack knowledge and skills in areas such as the global burden of disease (51%), social determinants of health (52%), culture and health (60%), climate and health (62%), health promotion and disease prevention (66%), strategies for equal access to health care (69%) and global health care systems (72%). A significant association was found between self-assessed competence and the amount of global health education received (p<0.001). A majority of Swedish medical students (83%) wished to have more global health education added to the curriculum.

Conclusions: Most Swedish medical students have had no global health education as part of their medical school curriculum. Expanded education in global health is sought after by medical students and could strengthen the professional development of future medical doctors in a wide range of topics important for practitioners in the global world of the twenty-first century.

Keywords: Medical education; education; global health; international health; medical student; public health; social determinants.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Clinical Competence
  • Curriculum / statistics & numerical data*
  • Education, Medical / organization & administration*
  • Female
  • Global Health / education*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Needs Assessment*
  • Schools, Medical / organization & administration*
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • Students, Medical / statistics & numerical data
  • Sweden
  • Young Adult