Educating physicians about women's health. Survey of Canadian family medicine residency programs

M A McCall, J Sorbie
Canadian Family Physician Médecin de Famille Canadien 1994, 40: 900-5

OBJECTIVE: To identify which women's health issues are taught in the 2-year core curriculum of Canadian family medicine residency programs and whether educators think their current teaching of women's health is adequate.

DESIGN: Mailed survey using a questionnaire.

PARTICIPANTS: All program and unit directors of the 16 Canadian family medicine residency training programs were surveyed. Replies were received from 63% (10 of 16) of program directors and 79% (55 of 70) of unit directors.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Percentage of programs teaching specific women's health topics from a list of 21 possible topics; percentage offering educational opportunities with sexual assault teams and women's shelters; participants' assessment of the adequacy of current teaching in each training program; plans to increase women's health education.

RESULTS: Topics such as violence against women and medical conditions more common among women were taught in more than 80% of programs, but poverty and the health care concerns of Native and immigrant women were included in fewer than 40% of programs. Half of the program directors indicated that residents were given educational opportunities with sexual assault teams or women's shelters. Unit directors gave a lower estimate. Most (90%) program directors thought their current teaching of women's health issues was inadequate and had plans to increase it, as did 64% of unit directors.

CONCLUSION: Violence against women and the traditional medical topics of osteoporosis, weight disorders, and reproductive and breast cancer are frequently taught in family medicine training programs. However, the social and cultural aspects of health are addressed less often. It is encouraging that many family medicine programs plan to increase their teaching of women's health.

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