Assessing cultural safety in general practice consultations for Indigenous patients: protocol for a mixed methods sequential embedded design study

BMC Med Educ. 2023 May 2;23(1):306. doi: 10.1186/s12909-023-04249-6.


Background: Assessment of cultural safety in general practice consultations for Indigenous patients is a complex notion. Design and development of any assessment tool needs to be cognizant that cultural safety is determined by Indigenous peoples and incorporates defined components of cultural safety and current educational theory. Consideration of how social, historical, and political determinants of health and well-being impact upon the cultural safety of a consultation is also important. Given this complexity, we assume that no single method of assessment will be adequate to determine if general practice (GP) registrars are demonstrating or delivering culturally safe care. As such, we propose that development and assessment of cultural safety can be conceptualised using a model that considers these variables. From this, we aim to develop a tool to assess whether GP registrars are conducting a culturally safe consultation, where cultural safety is determined by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Methods: This protocol will be situated in a pragmatic philosophical position to explore cultural safety primarily from the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients' perspective with triangulation and validation of findings with the GP and GP registrar perspective, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, and the medical education community. The study will integrate both quantitative and qualitative data through three sequential phases. Data collection will be through survey, semi-structured interviews, an adapted nominal group technique, and a Delphi questionnaire. We aim to recruit approximately 40 patient and 20 GP participants for interviews, conduct one to five nominal groups (seven to 35 participants) and recruit fifteen participants for the Delphi process. Data will be analysed through a content analysis approach to identify components of an assessment of cultural safety for GP registrars.

Discussion: This study will be one of the first to explore how cultural safety, as determined by Indigenous peoples, can be assessed in general practice consultations. This protocol is shared to stimulate awareness and discussion around this significant issue and prompt other studies in this area.

Keywords: Assessment; Cultural safety; General practice; Indigenous; Registrars.

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples
  • Cultural Competency / education
  • General Practice*
  • Health Services, Indigenous*
  • Humans
  • Referral and Consultation