The effectiveness of a study abroad program for increasing students’ cultural competence

Helen C. Ballestas, PhD, ANP-BC, RN, Maureen C. Roller, DNP, ANP-BC, RN


Background: Measuring the effect of a study abroad program is one way to determine its impact on developing students’ cultural competence.  To date, few articles describe outcomes of such strategies.  In some published studies, a description of the program or intervention is frequently not offered making it difficult to utilize findings or to replicate them.

Purpose: To measure the effects of a study abroad program utilizing a structured course to improve the cultural competence of baccalaureate nursing students.

Methods: A comparative quantitative design measured level of cultural competency before and after a study abroad program.

Results: The results demonstrated an 89% improvement in cultural competence following this experience.

Conclusions: A short-term study abroad experiential learning program can increase cultural competence for baccalaureate nursing students. Quantitative measures of effectiveness and a description of the program’s content and format are essential in determining a study’s strength.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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