Experiences and outcomes of health professional students undertaking education on Indigenous health: A systematic integrative literature review

Kyly Mills, Debra K. Creedy, Roianne West

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Objectives: To explore the experiences and outcomes of health professional students when undertaking education on Indigenous health. Design: An integrative systematic literature review. Data Sources: The search was undertaken from September 2017–November 2017. Six databases were searched: CINAHL, Scopus, Informit Health Collection, Informit Indigenous Collection, Proquest – Nursing and Allied Health Collection; and Proquest – Health and Medical Collection. Reference lists of all articles were scanned for further relevant articles. Review Methods: The search strategy was limited to English articles published in the previous decade. Articles were included if they focused on Indigenous health content provided to health professional university students, with a focus on Indigenous populations of Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States of America. The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guided the review. Studies were evaluated for methodological rigour using the CASP rating checklist. Both qualitative and quantitative data were coded using thematic qualitative analysis methods and presented as a meta-aggregation. Results: Twelve articles were included. Synthesis found significant variability in the ways Indigenous health issues were taught and integrated into health programs, particularly with regards to quality, methodological rigour of evaluation, pedagogical approaches and student experiences. Four themes were developed to describe student experiences and learning outcomes. These included: increasing knowledge of Indigenous health; emotional responses to content and teaching processes; perceived value of Indigenous health education; and cultural competence and critical thinking. Conclusions: Methodologically sound longitudinal studies are required to test if early changes in student knowledge and attitudes may be sustained. How students’ ‘increase in knowledge’ translates to cultural capability is unclear, and there is a need for validated tools to measure this construct. A more sophisticated critique of how students emotionally engage with Indigenous health content, including understanding the relationships between ‘discomfort’ and transformative experiences is required.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-158
Number of pages10
JournalNurse Education Today
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018
Externally publishedYes


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