Oral Presentation Lowitja Institute International Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Conference 2016

Measuring the impact of a discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health course on the development of cultural capabilities of health professional students in higher education (#43)

Roianne F West 1 , Shannon Springer 2 , Sue Jones 3 , Debra Creedy 1 , Somer Wrigley 1 , Janie Smith 2 , Kate Taylor 3
  1. Griffith university, Southport, QLD, Australia
  2. Bond University, Gold Coast, QLD , Australia
  3. Curtin University, Perth, WA, Australia

Aim: Report on a First Peoples-led collaboration to develop and validate a tool to measure the impact of a discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Course on the development of cultural capabilities of health professional students in Higher Education.

Background: A culturally capable health workforce is paramount to closing the gap in health disparities between Australia’s First Peoples and other Australians. The inclusion of mandatory First Peoples health education within health professional programs is one way to achieve this.

Rationale: There is a lack of empirical evidence supporting the effectiveness of cross cultural education in Australia (Ewan, Paul & Bloom, 2012). While there are some tools available to demonstrate culturally safe health care (e.g. Perng & Watson, 2011) there are no published tools to assess the development of student’s cultural capabilities as indicated by The Framework, developed and led by First Peoples.

Method: Design: Pre–post intervention design. Participants: Students undertaking a discrete First Peoples health course in health professional programs. Instrument: A decolonising process underpinned each phase of the development of the Cultural Capability Tool (CCT) and included (1) item generation (60 items across the 5 domains), (2) expert review (First Peoples and Non-First Peoples staff/students). (3) Psychometric testing (reliability, factor analysis, construct validity).

Procedure: Students enrolled in a discrete First Peoples health course were invited to complete the tool prior to and upon completion. The CCT was uploaded using Lime Survey onto course website.

Results: Preliminary testing demonstrated an increase in student’s cultural capabilities. The CCT also demonstrated good internal reliability.

Discussion: The increase in cultural capability scores indicates some short-term success. The revised CCT demonstrated good reliability, content and construct validity. Recommendations for future research, education and health professional developments will be discussed.


  1. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Curriculum Framework 2015, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra.
  2. Ewen S, Paul, D. & Bloom (2012) Do indigenous health curricula in health science education reduce disparities in health outcomes? Med J Aust 197 (1): 50-52.
  3. Perng, S-J & Watson, R (2011) Construct validation of the Nurse Cultural Competence Scale: a hierarchy of abilities. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 21: 1678-1684.
  4. DeVellis, R. F. (2012). Scale development: Theory and applications (3rd edn). Thousand Oaks, California: Sage.