The human sexuality education of physicians in North American medical schools

Int J Impot Res. 2003 Oct:15 Suppl 5:S41-5. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijir.3901071.


Individuals seeking treatment for sexual problems frequently would like to turn to a source they consider knowledgeable and worthy of respect, their doctor. The objective was to assess how well the 125 schools of medicine in the United States and the 16 in Canada prepare physicians to diagnose and treat sexual problems. A prospective cohort study was carried out. The main outcome results were description of the medical educational experiences, teaching time, specific subject areas, clinical programs, clerkships, continuing education programs in the domain of human sexuality in North American medical schools. The results were as follows. There were 101 survey responses (71.6%) of a potential of 141 medical schools (74% of United States and 50% of Canadian medical schools). A total of 84 respondents (83.2%) for sexuality education used a lecture format. A single discipline was responsible for this teaching in 32 (31.7%) schools, but a multidisciplinary team was responsible in 64 (63.4%) schools (five schools failed to respond to the question). The majority (54.1%) of the schools provided 3-10 h of education. Causes of sexual dysfunction (94.1%), its treatment (85.2%) altered sexual identification (79.2%) and issues of sexuality in illness or disability (69.3%) were included in the curriculum of 96 respondents. Only 43 (42.6%) schools offered clinical programs, which included a focus on treating patients with sexual problems and dysfunctions, and 56 (55.5%) provided the students in their clerkships with supervision in dealing with sexual issues. In conclusion, expansion of human sexuality education in medical schools may be necessary to meet the public demand of an informed health provider.

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Curriculum
  • Data Collection
  • Education, Medical / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Sex Education / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / therapy*
  • Sexuality*
  • Students, Medical / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States