A Medical Education Recommendation for Improving Sexual Health and Humanism and Professionalism

Sex Med Rev. 2021 Jan;9(1):23-35. doi: 10.1016/j.sxmr.2020.10.002. Epub 2020 Nov 26.


Introduction: Sexual health in the United States is poor, yet most physicians do not address the topic. Sexual health education (SHE) guidelines are available but not used. The lack of SHE in undergraduate medical education (UME) impacts sexual and general health outcomes, as SHE in UME increases physicians' awareness of and ability to address sexual health, which is bidirectionally correlated with other health.

Objective: To design and assess the need, feasibility, and outcomes of an educational recommendation for increased incorporation of SHE in UME.

Methods: Comprehensive literature review was used to assess current and future needs of SHE in UME and humanism and professionalism education (HPE). Qualitative analysis was used to assess a potential solution. The main outcome measure was an educational recommendation based on qualitative analysis of (1) the benefits of SHE and HPE in UME, (2) the SHE and HPE overlap, and (3) the potential effect of a formally combined delivery on UME and patient and practitioner outcomes.

Results: Available literature on medical SHE supports increased SHE is necessary and should be incorporated into existing HPE whenever possible, secondary to numerous intersections. Qualitative analysis supports HPE could be enhanced when consistently exemplified through SHE, and this approach could be beneficial for (1) increased understanding, retention, application, and advocacy of both topics; (2) long-term improvement of sexual and general health at the patient and population levels; and (3) increased practice of humanism and professionalism, potentially resulting in better patient outcomes and professional satisfaction for physicians.

Conclusion: Cross-disciplinary qualitative analysis supports using SHE as the primary topic to teach HPE is a viable method to increase SHE and potentially creates physicians who address sexual health and practice with increased humanism and professionalism, leading to population-level sexual and general health improvements. Gordon EG. A Medical Education Recommendation for Improving Sexual Health and Humanism and Professionalism. Sex Med Rev 2021;9:23-35.

Keywords: Education; Humanism; Medical Undergraduate; Professionalism; Sex Education; Sexual Dysfunctions; Systems Analysis.

Publication types

  • Review