Sexual communication skills in residency training: the Robert Wood Johnson model

J Sex Med. 2006 Jan;3(1):37-46. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2005.00135.x.


Few medical schools or residency programs offer adequate training in sexual medicine. Using the experience gained in our long-standing program in human sexuality for medical students, we have pilot tested a half-day intensive workshop curriculum for residents that focuses on sexual communication skills and management of sexual problems. Unlike our medical school program, this residency course was offered on an elective, one-day basis. The current report describes the successful implementation of our pilot program with 46 medical residents from subspecialty and primary care residency programs. Before the workshop, 22 (48%) residents indicated that they were uncomfortable with open discussion of sexual issues and would not feel comfortable in addressing the topic with their patients. A number of factors were identified as barriers to communication, including lack of time, inadequate training, and personal discomfort. After the workshop, the participants rated themselves as more comfortable with the topic and as more likely to address sexual issues with their patients. The participants evaluated the workshop positively overall and responded well to the interactive format and audience-response components. Most of the participants showed interest and willingness to participate in further training in sexual medicine skills. Our program offers a model for training of residents in communication skills and management of sexual problems. The difficulties in implementation and overcoming institutional barriers to curriculum reform are addressed.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Curriculum
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency / methods*
  • Medical History Taking / methods
  • Models, Educational
  • New York
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods
  • Physician's Role
  • Pilot Projects
  • Professional Competence
  • Professional-Patient Relations*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Sex Education / methods*