Reflective practice and transcultural psychiatry peer e-learning between Somaliland and the UK: a qualitative evaluation

BMC Med Educ. 2021 Jan 15;21(1):58. doi: 10.1186/s12909-020-02465-y.

Abstract

Background: Reflective practice is a key skill for healthcare professionals. E-learning programmes have the potential to develop reflective practice in remote settings and low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), where access to in-person reflective groups may be reduced. 'Aqoon' is a global mental health peer-to-peer e-learning programme between Somaliland and UK medical students. We aimed to explore participants' experiences of participating in the Aqoon programme, including their experiences of reflective practice.

Methods: Thirty-three medical students (22 Somaliland, 11 UK) enrolled in Aqoon. We matched volunteer learners in trios, to meet online to discuss anonymised clinical cases relevant to chapters of the World Health Organization's mental health gap action programme (mhGAP) intervention guide. We conducted thematic analysis of learners' reflective writing and post-programme focus group transcripts.

Results: Twenty-four students (73%) attended at least three online discussions (14 Somaliland, 10 UK). Somaliland and UK students described improved reflective skills and greater recognition of stigma towards mental ill-health. Themes included gaining memorable insights from peer discussions which would impact their medical education. UK students emphasised improved cultural understanding of common psychiatric presentations whilst Somaliland students reflected on increased clinical confidence.

Discussion: Integrating reflective practice into Aqoon showed the potential for low-cost e-learning interventions to develop cross-cultural reflective practice among medical students in diverse settings.

Keywords: E-learning; Health partnerships; Intercultural awareness; Intercultural practice; Medical education; Peer-to-peer education; Reflective practice; Somaliland; Transcultural psychiatry; United Kingdom.