Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender patients present unique challenges to treating physicians, but their specific needs may not receive enough attention in some medical schools.
44 medical schools reported spending no time teaching LGBT-related content during clinical years, and in pre-clinical programs, nine medical schools said they did not spend time on LGBT issues, according to a study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The surveys used in the study were distributed to 176 schools of allopathic (conventional) and osteopathic medicine in the United States and Canada, and 85% of schools responded.
Across all participating medical schools, the median time spent on LGBT-related content was only five hours, although the time spent varied considerably from school to school.
Perhaps most surprisingly: 70% of responding schools rated their own LBGT programs as “fair”, “poor” or “very poor”.
“So that kind of told us that there was some awareness that there could be a better LGBT-related curriculum,” says Dr Leslie Stewart, one of the authors of the study.
Previous studies have documented huge health disparities between the LGBT community and heterosexual non-transgender peers.
Higher rates of anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, smoking, alcohol use, substance abuse, youth homelessness, bullying, sexually transmitted infections, and HIV / AIDS all affect women. LGBT community, according to studies.
In addition to persistent social stigma, there are structural barriers to accessing healthcare within the LGBT community, such as partners not qualifying for employer-sponsored healthcare coverage.
a Report of the Institute of Medicine cites that 57% percent of Fortune 500 companies extend benefits to national partners of LGB employees, with significantly fewer small companies doing the same.
The study of LGBT medical programs has its limitations.
Researchers assessed time spent explicitly on 16 different LGBT topics, including sexual orientation, gender identity, mental health issues, LGBT adolescents, and coming out, but did not directly assess knowledge, attitudes or skills.
It is difficult to determine how much relevant information about LGBT issues is incorporated into other lectures and discussions, says Dr Raymond Curry, associate dean of education at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.
“And while you could better assess what is going on in the program, even then what is perhaps more important is the environment in which this education takes place,” says Curry, who wrote an op-ed. on the study for JAMA.
“Is it an institution that itself welcomes a diverse group of students, patients and staff? Because I think when you have that, if you work in an environment that is itself a welcoming culture, the topics come naturally. “