Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 25, Supplement 2, pp 102–107 | Cite as

Disparities Education: What Do Students Want?

Original Article



Educating medical students about health disparities may be one step in diminishing the disparities in health among different populations. According to adult learning theory, learners’ opinions are vital to the development of future curricula.


Qualitative research using focus group methodology.


Our objectives were to explore the content that learners value in a health disparities curriculum and how they would want such a curriculum to be taught.


Study participants were first year medical students with an interest in health disparities (n = 17).


Semi-structured interviews consisting of 12 predetermined questions, with follow-up and clarifying questions arising from the discussion. Using grounded theory, codes were initially developed by the team of investigators, applied, and validated through an iterative process.


The students perceived negative attitudes towards health disparities education as a potential barrier towards the development of a health disparities curriculum and proposed possible solutions. These solutions centered around the learning environment and skill building to combat health disparities.


While many of the students’ opinions were corroborated in the literature, the most striking differences were their opinions on how to develop good attitudes among the student body. Given the impact of the provider on health disparities, how to develop such attitudes is an important area for further research.


health disparities health care disparities focus groups curriculum development medical education 



The authors would like to thank Albert Kuperman, MD, of the Division of Education at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine for funding the professional transcription of the interviews, Ms. Marilyn DeLuna for her tireless efforts in contributing to the health disparities education project, Maria Marzan, EDD, MPH, for her ongoing support and guidance in the project, and Will Southern, MD, MS, for his thoughtful review of the manuscript.

Conflict of Interest

None disclosed.


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Montefiore Medical CenterAlbert Einstein College of MedicineBronxUSA
  2. 2.Emory University School of MedicineAtlantaUSA
  3. 3.Jack D. Weiler HospitalBronxUSA

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