Medical students' ability to care for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered patients

Nelson F Sanchez, Joseph Rabatin, John P Sanchez, Steven Hubbard, Adina Kalet
Family Medicine 2006, 38 (1): 21-7

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Our objective was to assess medical students' ability to care for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) patients and to identify potential deficiencies in medical school curricula pertaining to this care.

METHODS: Between March 1 and April 15, 2004, third- and fourth-year medical students at a metropolitan medical school were sent an e-mail requesting participation in a confidential on-line survey of 64 quantitative questions designed to assess their ability to care for LGBT patients.

RESULTS: A total of 248 of 320 (77.5%) students responded. Medical students with greater clinical exposure to LGBT patients reported more frequent sexual history taking with LGBT patients, had more positive attitude scores, and possessed higher knowledge scores than students with little or no clinical exposure. Overall, on the 13-item attitude survey, the mean was 4.15 (5 = most positive, SD = .55, range 1.86-5.00), indicating a desire and willingness to provide health care to LGBT patients. The mean score on the 14-item knowledge test was 60% (SD = .12) correct.

CONCLUSIONS: Medical students with increased clinical exposure to LGBT patients tended to perform more comprehensive histories, hold more positive attitudes toward LGBT patients, and possess greater knowledge of LGBT health care concerns than students with little or no clinical exposure.

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