The Asia-Pacific Scholar
Caitlin Harrison, Rhys Jones & Marcus A. Henning
Formal Indigenous health curricula often exist in institutional contexts that tacitly condone racist discourses that are at odds with the goal of developing culturally safe health professionals. Recognition of the impact of informal and hidden curricula on learners has increased, yet few studies have provided empirical evidence about this aspect of health professional education. This study sought to examine characterisations of Māori (Indigenous New Zealanders) in learning environments at the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences. A cross-sectional study design based on the Stereotype Content Model elicited student perceptions (n = 444) of stereotype content in undergraduate nursing, pharmacy and medical programmes. The Stereotype Content Model identifies interpersonal and intergroup perceptions in relation to warmth and competence. These perceptions are considered fundamental and universal to the impressions people form when meeting one another. Stereotyping is associated with distinct affective and behavioural responses that can lead to discrimination. In this study, students rated perceived warmth and competence characterisations pertaining to four target ethnic groups (Māori, Pacific Nations, Asian and Pākehā/European).
Characterisations of Māori warmth were rated lower than Pacific Nations peoples, comparable to Pākehā/European and higher than characterisations of Asian peoples. In reference to competence characterisations, Māori were rated equal to Pacific Nations peoples and lower than both Asian and Pākehā/European peoples. This study’s results highlight a degree of incongruence between the University of Auckland’s formal Māori Health curricula and messages conveyed in the broader institutional context, with implications for educational outcomes and students’ future clinical practice.