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A systematic review of service-learning in medical education: 1998-2012


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Sistematic Review, Review


Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment

Teach Learn Med. 2015;27(2):115-22.


Trae Stewart, Zane C Wubbena


PHENOMENON: In the United States, the Affordable Care Act has increased the need for community-centered pedagogy for medical education such as service-learning, wherein students connect academic curriculum and reflections to address a community need. Yet heterogeneity among service-learning programs suggests the need for a framework to understand variations among service-learning programs in medical education.

Approach: A qualitative systematic review of literature on service-learning and medical education was conducted for the period between 1998 and 2012. A two-stage inclusion criteria process resulted in articles (n = 32) on service-learning and Doctor of Medicine or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine being included for both coding and analysis. Focused and selective coding were employed to identify recurring themes and subthemes from the literature.

Findings: The findings of the qualitative thematic analysis of service-learning variation in medical education identified a total of seven themes with subthemes. The themes identified from the analysis were (a) geographic location and setting, (b) program design, (c) funding, (d) participation, (e) program implementation, (f) assessment, and (g) student outcomes. Insights: This systematic review of literature confirmed the existence of program heterogeneity among service-learning program in medical education. However, the findings of this study provide key insights into the nature of service-learning in medical education building a framework for which to organize differences among service-learning programs. A list of recommendations for future areas of inquiry is provided to guide future research.

Publication Date: 

2015 Jan



Stewart, T., Wubbena, CZ. (2015) 'A systematic review of service-learning in medical education: 1998-2012 ', Teach Learn Med. 2015;27(2):115-22.

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