A critical review of representation in the development of global oncology curricula and the influence of neocolonialism

Meredith Giuliani*, Janneke Frambach, Michaela Broadhurst, Janet Papadakos, Rouhi Fazelad, Erik Driessen, Maria Athina Tina Martimianakis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review

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Background Global curricular homogenization is purported to have a multitude of benefits. However, homogenization, as typically practiced has been found to promote largely Western ideals. The purpose of this study was to explore the issue of representation in the development of global oncology curricula. Methods This systematic review of global oncology curricula involved a comprehensive search strategy of eight databases from inception to December 2018. Where available, both controlled vocabulary terms and text words were used. Two investigators independently reviewed the publications for eligibility. Full global/core oncology curricular documents were included. Data analysis included exploration of representation across a number of axes of power including sex and geographic sector, consistent with a neocolonial approach. Results 32,835 documents were identified in the search and 17 remained following application of the inclusion/exclusion criteria. Eleven of 17 papers were published from 2010 to 2018 and 13 curricula originated from Europe. The 17 curricula had 300 authors; 207 were male and most were from Europe (n = 190; 64%) or North America (n = 73; 24%). The most common curricular purposes were promoting quality patient care (n = 11), harmonization of training standards (n = 10), and facilitating physician mobility (n = 3). The methods for creation of these curricula were most commonly a committee or task force (n = 10). Over time there was an increase in the proportion of female authors and the number of countries represented in the authorship. Conclusion Existing global oncology curricula are heavily influenced by Western male authors and as a result may not incorporate relevant socio-cultural perspectives impacting care in diverse geographic settings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number93
Number of pages9
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2020


  • Global oncology curricula
  • Neocolonialism
  • Postcolonial
  • Discourse
  • Global health

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