Global Health and Graduate Medical Education: A Systematic Review of the Literature

J Grad Med Educ. 2016 Dec;8(5):685-691. doi: 10.4300/JGME-D-15-00774.1.


Background: Global health (GH) interest is increasing in graduate medical education (GME). The popularity of the GH topic has created growth in the GME literature.

Objective: The authors aim to provide a systematic review of published approaches to GH in GME.

Methods: We searched PubMed using variable keywords to identify articles with abstracts published between January 1975 and January 2015 focusing on GME approaches to GH. Articles meeting inclusion criteria were evaluated for content by authors to ensure relevance. Methodological quality was assessed using the Medical Education Research Study Quality Instrument (MERSQI), which has demonstrated reliability and validity evidence.

Results: Overall, 69 articles met initial inclusion criteria. Articles represented research and curricula from a number of specialties and a range of institutions. Many studies reported data from a single institution, lacked randomization and/or evidence of clinical benefit, and had poor reliability and validity evidence. The mean MERSQI score among 42 quantitative articles was 8.87 (2.79).

Conclusions: There is significant heterogeneity in GH curricula in GME, with no single strategy for teaching GH to graduate medical learners. The quality of literature is marginal, and the body of work overall does not facilitate assessment of educational or clinical benefit of GH experiences. Improved methods of curriculum evaluation and enhanced publication guidelines would have a positive impact on the quality of research in this area.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Curriculum
  • Education, Medical, Graduate*
  • Global Health / education*