Transforming our relationship with the social determinants of health: a scoping review of social justice interventions in Canadian Medical Schools Academic Article uri icon

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  • This article was migrated. The article was marked as recommended. Background/Purpose: Physicians are in a powerful position to improve the health status of communities through mitigating disparities rooted in social inequities. However, it is uncertain whether medical schools are preparing future physicians with the skills needed to care for diverse populations. The current scoping review aimed to describe how Canadian medical schools teach social justice, comparing pedagogical strategies. Methods: A search was performed using OVID to identify published studies of implemented and evaluated social justice-based interventions within Canadian medical school curricula. Results: Six studies were included. Common themes included increased content knowledge, greater understanding of SDoH, acknowledgement of power and privilege imbalances, identification of physicians' roles as advocates, emphasis on the importance of interdisciplinary care, and increased capacity for self-reflection and personal growth. Experiential interventions were associated with greater personal transformation, but had limited accessibility. Conclusion: Despite the widespread recognition of physicians' roles as health advocates, there is a lack of consensus about an effective strategy for teaching social justice in medical education in Canada. While additional research focusing on the relative merits of didactic versus experiential learning is needed, these preliminary results suggest that experiential learning emphasizing self-reflection and personal growth may be optimal when approaching transformative learning.


  • Kansal, Nisha
  • Graham, Brittany
  • Kruse, Michael
  • Lee, Janice
  • Kulkarni, Anvita
  • Pavalagantharajah, Sureka
  • Chu, Megan
  • Profetto, Jason
  • Veltman, Albina

publication date

  • September 14, 2020