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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 35  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 3-8

Social accountability in undergraduate medical education: A narrative review

1 C.T. Lamont Primary Health Care Research Centre, Bruyère Research Institute, Ottawa, Canada
2 Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada
3 Office of Social Accountability, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada
4 Library, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada
5 C.T. Lamont Primary Health Care Research Centre, Bruyère Research Institute; Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine; Office of Social Accountability, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada

Correspondence Address:
Claire E Kendall
85 Primrose Ave, K1N 5C8, Ontario
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/efh.efh_305_21

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Background: Medical schools have been increasingly called upon to augment and prioritize their social accountability (SA). Approaches to increasing SA may include reorienting and focusing curricular activities on the priority health needs of the region that they serve. To inform the undergraduate medical education (UGME) curriculum renewal at our school, we examined how SA has been expressed in medical education across several countries and the impacts of SA activities on medical student experience and community-level outcomes. Methods: We conducted a narrative literature review using two electronic databases and searched for studies that reported on SA UGME activities implemented in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Studies were screened for inclusion based on predetermined eligibility criteria. Results: We included 40 studies for descriptive analysis and categorized UGME activities into five categories: (1) distributed medical education and community-specific placements/services (32; 80%), (2) community engagement and advocacy activities (23; 58%), (3) international elective preparation and experiences (8; 20%), (4) classroom-based learning of SA-related concepts (17; 43%), and (5) student engagement in SA UGME activities (6; 15%). We categorized impact into four main outcomes: student experience (21; 53%), student competencies (11; 28%), future career choice/practice setting (15; 38%), and community feedback (7; 18%). Student experience was most frequently examined, followed by future career choice/practice setting. Discussion: SA was primarily expressed in UGME activities through placement/service activities and most frequently assessed through student experiences. Student experiences of SA UGME activities have been reported to be largely positive, with benefits also reported for student competencies and influences on future career choice/practice setting. The expression of SA through community engagement in the development of curricular activities indicates a positive shift from social responsibility to SA, but a highly socially accountable curriculum would increasingly consider measures of community impact.

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