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© 2020, The Author(s). Background: Global health is the study, research, and practice of medicine focused on improving health and achieving health equity for all persons worldwide. International and national bodies stipulate that global health be integrated into medical school curricula. However, there is a global paucity of data evaluating the state of global health teaching in medical schools. This study aimed to evaluate the extent of global health teaching activities at United Kingdom (UK) medical schools. Methods: A national, cross-sectional study assessing all timetabled teachings sessions within UK medical courses for global health content during the academic year 2018/19. Global health content was evaluated against a comprehensive list of global health learning outcomes for medical students. Results: Data from 39 medical courses representing 86% (30/36) of eligible medical schools was collected. Typically, medical courses reported timetabled teaching covering over three-quarters of all global health learning outcomes. However, a wide degree of variation existed among granular global health learning objectives covered within the different medical courses. On average, each learning outcome had a 79% [95% CI: 73, 83%] probability of being included in course curricula. There were a number of learning outcomes that had a lower probability, such as ‘access to surgeons with the necessary skills and equipment in different countries’ (36%) [95% CI: 21, 53%], ‘future impact of climate change on health and healthcare systems’ (67%) [95% CI: 50, 81%], and ‘role of the WHO’ (54%) [95% CI: 28, 60%]. Conclusions: This study served as the first national assessment of global health education and curricula within UK medical schools. Through a formalised assessment of teaching events produced by medical schools around the country, we were able to capture a national picture of global health education, including the strengths of global health prioritisation in the UK, as well as areas for improvement. Overall, it appears broad-level global health themes are widely discussed; however, the granularities of key, emerging areas of concern are omitted by curricula. In particular, gaps persist relating to international healthcare systems, multilateral global health agencies such as the WHO, global surgery, climate change and more.

Original publication




Journal article


BMC Medical Education

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