An Assessment of Cross-Cultural Education in U.S. Dental Schools
The purpose of this study was to assess the status of cross-cultural education in U.S. dental schools and to identify characteristics associated with having a formal cross-cultural curriculum. An eighteen-item survey, which included questions about curricular format, teaching and evaluation methods, time, and course content, was sent to all U.S. dental schools. Comparisons were made using whether or not institutions had formal cross-cultural curricula. Forty-five of fifty-six schools responded. Twenty-nine schools reported having formal cross-cultural curricula in a separate course and/or integrated with other courses with specific goals and objectives. Schools that have formal cross-cultural curricula had higher scores on depth of curricula and spent more time than schools that reported having informal curricula (p=0.03). Competing curricular time and lack of faculty expertise were the most frequently cited impeding factors for inclusion of cross-cultural issues (87.8 percent and 68.3 percent, respectively), while diverse patient population and leadership commitment were the most frequently cited facilitating factors (92.5 percent and 67.5 percent, respectively). There is wide variation among dental schools regarding how they teach these issues and how students are evaluated. Dental schools lack guidance about how to best incorporate this curricular content.