An Indigenous cultural competence model for dentistry education

Cathryn Forsyth, Stephanie Short, John Gilroy, Marc Tennant, Michelle Irving

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Reorientation of education for health professionals is necessary to support future health workforce in meeting population needs. Dental graduates must be competent to effectively communicate with patients, their families and other health professionals involved in their care, regardless of social or cultural background. Indigenous people in Australia experience significant oral health disparities compared to non-Indigenous Australians. Cultural competence has evolved as the leading model to equip future clinicians to deliver culturally safe care. A case study conducted at the University of Sydney School of Dentistry examined the integration of Indigenous cultural competence into dental curricula using four data sources: a systematic review identifying intervention strategies to improve cultural competence; an online survey to provide a baseline analysis of Indigenous curricula practices; and two in-depth interview studies with academics and students to determine barriers and enablers to increasing Indigenous cultural competence among dental students. As a result, an Indigenous cultural model was developed for dentistry education, recognising three major constituents being critical to achieving cultural competence among dental students. Indigenous cultural competence in dentistry education requires stringent governance, adequate faculty resources and effective educational strategies, in order to increase students' knowledge, understanding and skills to achieve a minimum cultural competence standard upon graduation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)719-725
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Dental Journal
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020


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