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Open Access Research

An ethics curriculum for short-term global health trainees

Matthew DeCamp1*, Joce Rodriguez2, Shelby Hecht3, Michele Barry2 and Jeremy Sugarman4

Author Affiliations

1 Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics and Division of General Internal Medicine, 1809 Ashland Avenue, Baltimore, MD, 21205, USA

2 Center for Innovation in Global Health, Stanford University and School of Medicine, 291 Campus Drive, Room LK3CO2, MC: 5216, Stanford, CA, 94305-5119, USA

3 Johns Hopkins University, Mason Hall, Baltimore, USA

4 Harvey M. Meyerhoff Professor of Bioethics and Medicine, Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, and Division of General Internal Medicine, 1809 Ashland Ave, Baltimore, MD, 21205, USA

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Globalization and Health 2013, 9:5  doi:10.1186/1744-8603-9-5

Published: 14 February 2013

Abstract

Background

Interest in short-term global health training and service programs continues to grow, yet they can be associated with a variety of ethical issues for which trainees or others with limited global health experience may not be prepared to address. Therefore, there is a clear need for educational interventions concerning these ethical issues.

Methods

We developed and evaluated an introductory curriculum, “Ethical Challenges in Short-term Global Health Training.” The curriculum was developed through solicitation of actual ethical issues experienced by trainees and program leaders; content drafting; and external content review. It was then evaluated from November 1, 2011, through July 1, 2012, by analyzing web usage data and by conducting user surveys. The survey included basic demographic data; prior experience in global health and global health ethics; and assessment of cases within the curriculum.

Results

The ten case curriculum is freely available at http://ethicsandglobalhealth.org webcite. An average of 238 unique visitors accessed the site each month (standard deviation, 19). Of users who had been abroad before for global health training or service, only 31% reported prior ethics training related to short-term work. Most users (62%) reported accessing the site via personal referral or their training program; however, a significant number (28%) reported finding the site via web search, and 8% discovered it via web links. Users represented different fields: medicine (46%), public health (15%), and nursing (11%) were most common. All cases in the curriculum were evaluated favorably.

Conclusions

The curriculum is meeting a critical need for an introduction to the ethical issues in short-term global health training. Future work will integrate this curriculum within more comprehensive curricula for global health and evaluate specific knowledge and behavioral effects, including at training sites abroad.

Keywords:
Curriculum development; Ethics; Global health education; Global health electives; Global health training; Online education; Short-term medical outreach; Evaluation