Research News


Educational Program Helps Medical Students Better Understand the Relationship between Health and Society

image picture Image by BearFotos/Shutterstock

The University of Tsukuba has implemented an educational program aimed at equipping medical students with a comprehensive understanding of the social determinants of health. This program is integrated into their clinical clerkship training in community medicine. Through ongoing enhancements and improvements, the students have gained a profound insight into the intricate connection between health and society.

Tsukuba, Japan—The intricate relationship between human health and various social and economic factors has gained significant attention in medical education. These social factors, known as social determinants of health (SDH), play a crucial role in shaping health outcomes. However, there is a limited number of studies that continuously evaluate the effectiveness of educational initiatives in enhancing medical students' understanding of SDH.

In 2018, the University of Tsukuba School of Medicine introduced an SDH education program for medical students during their clinical clerkship in community medicine. This program is mandatory for 5th and 6th year students and spans four weeks of clinical clerkship training at both the university hospital and suburban hospitals and clinics. At the beginning of the clerkship, students attend a lecture on SDH. Throughout the four-week training, they are tasked with identifying a case related to SDH, which they present on the final day of training. Additionally, they are required to submit a report upon completion of the training. The program has undergone periodic revisions to enhance its content, and faculty development initiatives have been implemented to deepen the understanding of SDH education.

This study evaluates the level of understanding of SDH among students by analyzing three years of student reports, from 2018 onwards. The results indicated a progressive increase in the percentage of students with a deeper comprehension of SDH since the inception of the program. Furthermore, students displayed the ability to focus on different aspects of SDH in their reports.

The future is expected to witness increased attention toward SDH education programs for medical students. To further enhance these programs, it is crucial to foster greater integration between medical and social science education.

This work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number JP19K10527.

Original Paper

Title of original paper:
Three-year evaluation of a program teaching social determinants of health in community-based medical education: a general inductive approach for qualitative data analysis
BMC Medical Education


Assistant Professor OZONE Sachiko
Visiting Associate Professor HARUTA Junji (Professor of the School of Medicine, Medical Education Center, Keio University)
Institute of Medicine, University of Tsukuba

Related Link

Institute of Medicine

Celebrating the 151st 50th Anniversary of the University of Tsukuba
Celebrating the 151st 50th Anniversary of the University of Tsukuba