Inter-Cultural Communication Skills Training in Medical Schools: A Systematic Review

Main Article Content

Urna Rahman, MBBS Nick Cooling


Background Effective intercultural communication skills are an essential graduate outcome for medical students in a globalised world. Educational theory would suggest that combining an understanding of cultural competence with patient centred communication skills through an experiential, immersive, reflective and longitudinal curriculum may be the most effective way to develop intercultural communication skills.


Aims To determine the scope and most effective teaching methods in training medical students in intercultural communication with ethnically diverse populations.


Method A systematic review of the literature was performed using the PRISMA Guidelines to identify articles that described methods for teaching intercultural communication to medical students. A search of the literature was performed in five databases: Cochrane, EMBASE, ERIC, PubMed and Web of Science. Relevant papers were interrogated for impact (Kirkpatrick level), quality (Colthart scale) and learning mechanism.


Results We found 22 studies that described teaching methods for developing intercultural communication for ethnically diverse people in medical schools. There were a diverse range of teaching methods, durations and time of delivery in the medical course. Better teaching interventions were underpinned by learning theory and usually included practice with standardised patients, reflection and immersive experiences with members of ethnically diverse communities. Evaluation of these studies was limited mostly to short term student satisfaction surveys or performance assessments which hampered determining their effectiveness.


Conclusion While there are indications that intercultural communication is best learnt as a continuum of cultural and communication skill development through immersive experiences, iteratively through medical school, there remains a need for high quality longitudinal studies to confirm this hypothesis.

Keywords: Communication skills, consultation skills, cultural competence, cultural competence workshops, medical students, undergraduate medicine, undergraduate medical curriculum, educational intervention, diverse cultures, cross-cultural, inter-cultural, diversity, CALD

Article Details

How to Cite
RAHMAN, Urna; COOLING, Nick. Inter-Cultural Communication Skills Training in Medical Schools: A Systematic Review. Medical Research Archives, [S.l.], v. 11, n. 4, apr. 2023. ISSN 2375-1924. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 29 may 2023. doi:
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