JOURNAL ARTICLE

What do medical schools teach about women's health and gender differences?

Janet B Henrich, Catherine M Viscoli
Academic Medicine 2006, 81 (5): 476-82
16639208

PURPOSE: To examine the curricula of U.S. medical schools to assess the inclusion of women's health and gender-specific information and identify institutional characteristics associated with this content.

METHOD: Using data from the Association of American Medical Colleges' Curriculum Management and Information Tool (CurrMIT), in November 2003 to February 2004 the authors performed a curriculum search of schools that entered course/clerkships in CurrMIT to identify interdisciplinary women's health or gender-specific courses/clerkships. A subset of schools that entered comprehensive information in CurrMIT was searched for a specified list of women's health topics and or gender-specific content on any topic. Statistical analyses were performed to assess the relationship between frequency of topics and school characteristics.

RESULTS: The authors identified 95 schools that entered related courses/clerkships. Ten courses/clerkships at nine schools met criteria for an interdisciplinary women's health course/clerkship. In the subset of 60 schools with comprehensive CurrMIT information, 18 specified women's health topics were identified, as well as 24 topics on gender-specific content, for a total of 42 topics. The number of topics taught ranged from zero to 26 (mean = 11). More than 50% of these schools taught 11 of the 18 specified topics, while fewer than 30% included gender-specific topics. There was no association in bivariate analysis between the mean number of topics taught and schools' characteristics; however, a women's health program (p= .01) and female dean (p= .06) were positively associated in a regression model.

CONCLUSIONS: Few schools offer interdisciplinary women's health courses/clerkships or include gender-specific information in their curricula. A designated women's health program may increase this content in schools' curricula.

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