Assessment of Medical Student and Resident/Fellow Knowledge, Comfort, and Training With Sexual History Taking in LGBTQ Patients

Victoria Hayes, Whitney Blondeau, Robert G Bing-You
Family Medicine 2015, 47 (5): 383-7

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Sexual health is an important aspect of overall health. Barriers to taking an adequate patient sexual history exist. Few studies have explored medical learners' comfort, knowledge, and training surrounding taking sexual histories with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning/queer (LGBTQ) patients specifically.

METHODS: A 10-question survey was offered to medical students and resident/fellows at one US institution. Survey questions reflected participants' knowledge, comfort, and training related to sexual history taking with attention to LGBTQ care.

RESULTS: A total of 159 surveys were returned (rate of 42%). A significantly lower level of comfort existed with taking sexual histories and managing sexual health issues in the LGBTQ segment of the patient population versus all patients, especially in the advanced training group. Participants recognized the importance of understanding their patients' overall sexual health, though medical students rated this as more important than the resident/fellow group did. A correlation existed between both comfort with taking sexual histories and discussing safe sexual practices and management of sexual issues, suggesting that further training would be helpful in this area. Twenty percent of the respondents reported receiving no training at all in eliciting sexual histories in LGBTQ patients. The most preferred format in this study for future training was interviewing standardized patients.

CONCLUSIONS: Medical students and resident/fellows reported a significantly lower level of comfort with sexual history-taking and management of sexual issues in the LGBTQ population. A comprehensive training format that not only views sexual health as an integral part of overall patient health, but also integrates LGBTQ care, is needed in medical education.

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