Indigenous Health Curriculum and Health Professional Learners: A Systematic Review

Med Teach. 2019 May;41(5):525-531. doi: 10.1080/0142159X.2018.1497785. Epub 2018 Oct 9.


Background: Globally, an estimated 370 million Indigenous peoples reside in more than 70 countries with these people commonly experiencing health care access inequity. Purpose: This systematic review aimed to examine the impact of Indigenous health care curriculum on entry-level health professional learners in preparation to deliver equitable health care. Methods: Seventeen articles were identified and analyzed for: context; study design; study measures, teaching and learning delivery mode, content and duration; positive and negative learner reactions; learning gained and article quality was assessed using the Medical Education Research Study Quality Instrument. Results: Most included studies described face-to-face delivery along with blended learning combining a placement in an Indigenous setting, stand-alone placements and digital learning. Descriptions of learning gained covered five domains: remembering, understanding, self-knowledge, perspective and application relating mostly to cultural awareness. Factors contributing to positive learner reactions included attitude, environment, educator skill, pedagogy and opportunities. Factors contributing to negative learner reactions included attitude and environment. Conclusions: There is a need to further explore how health professional graduates are prepared to work in Indigenous health and the appropriate measures to do this. There is opportunity to learn more about Indigenous health teaching and learning across learning domains, in mainstream clinical placements and in digital learning.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Curriculum
  • Education, Professional / methods*
  • Health Education / methods
  • Health Services, Indigenous*
  • Humans
  • Learning*
  • Students, Health Occupations / psychology*