NYMC Faculty Publications

Increasing Medical Student Confidence in Gender and Sexual Health through a Student-Initiated Lecture Series

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Journal of Advances in Medical Education & Professionalism

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Second Department



INTRODUCTION: Medical students self-report insufficient training in topics of gender and sexuality in medicine, which may ultimately lead to negative health outcomes in patients for whom they will provide care. This study aims to identify whether a student-initiated lecture series on topics related to gender and sexual health leads to greater student comfort with discussing topics related to diverse sexual content.

METHODS: Medical students matriculated during two consecutive academic years were invited to participate in the lecture series. Investigators administered anonymous pre- and post-series surveys (n=152 and 105 respondents, respectively) using google forms. Respondents rated their comfort levels discussing relevant topics and provided narrative feedback concerning strengths and areas for improvement of the lecture series. Overlaps between the 95% confidence intervals around pre- and post-series percentage of students comfortable/very comfortable discussing each topic were examined to compare pre- vs post-series comfort ratings. Narrative comments were reviewed for thematic feedback.

RESULTS: 105 medical students completed the lecture series, with 80% identifying as female. Self-assessed comfort levels across all seminar topics were greater in post- versus pre-lecture series surveys with the following topics showing the biggest differences (percentage of students "somewhat" or "very" comfortable [95% confidence intervals]: discussing sexuality with gender (68%[59-77] vs. 29%[22-36]) and sexual minority patients (84%[77-91] vs. 49%[41-57]), HIV prevention counseling (70%[61-78] vs. 20% [20-34]), identifying female genital cutting (44% [34-53] vs. 11%[6-16]), and discussing intimate partner violence (65%[55-74] vs. 33%[25-40]). Qualitative analysis indicated respondents found the lectures to be effective and believed they should be integrated into the required medical school curriculum.

CONCLUSION: Our student-initiated lecture series was associated with greater student comfort discussing topics related to gender and sexuality with patients. This framework represents a useful method to address gaps in medical education and has the potential to improve health outcomes in multiple populations.