Preparing students for the ethical challenges on international health electives: A systematic review of the literature on educational interventions
International health electives pose specific ethical challenges for students travelling from to low and middle income countries. We undertook a systematic review of the literature on interventions to prepare students to identify ethical issues addressed, educational approaches and to collate evidence on the effectiveness of different strategies. We searched nine electronic databases of peer-reviewed literature and identified grey literature through key word searches; supplemented through citation mapping and expert consultation. Articles that described ethical training conducted by universities or professional bodies were included for review. We reviewed forty-four full text articles. Ten sources of published literature and seven sources of grey literature met our inclusion criteria. We identified thirteen ethical situations that students should be prepared to manage and eight generic skills to support this process. Most interventions were delivered before the elective, used case studies or guidelines. Some suggested ethical principles or a framework for analysis of ethical issues. Only two papers evaluated the intervention described. Our paper collates a small but growing body of work on education to prepare students to manage ethical issues. Ethical training should have elements that are delivered before, during and after the elective. Interventions should include case studies covering thirteen ethical issues identified here, linked to ethical principles and a process for responding to ethical issues. We suggest that evaluations of interventions are an important area for future research.