Transgender health content in medical education: a theory-guided systematic review of current training practices and implementation barriers & facilitators

Adv Health Sci Educ Theory Pract. 2022 Apr 12. doi: 10.1007/s10459-022-10112-y. Online ahead of print.


Health disparities faced by transgender people are partly explained by barriers to trans-inclusive healthcare, which in turn are linked to a lack of transgender health education in medical school curricula. We carried out a theory-driven systematic review with the aim to (1) provide an overview of key characteristics of training initiatives and pedagogical features, and (2) analyze barriers and facilitators to implementing this training in medical education. We used queer theory to contextualize our findings. We searched the PubMed/Ovid MEDLINE database (October 2009 to December 2021) for original studies that reported on transgender content within medical schools and residency programs (N = 46). We performed a thematic analysis to identify training characteristics, pedagogical features, barriers and facilitators. Most training consisted of single-session interventions, with varying modes of delivery. Most interventions were facilitated by instructors with a range of professional experience and half covered general LGBT+-content. Thematic analysis highlighted barriers including lack of educational materials, lack of faculty expertise, time/costs constraints, and challenges in recruiting and compensating transgender guest speakers. Facilitators included scaffolding learning throughout the curriculum, drawing on expertise of transgender people and engaging learners in skills-based training. Sustainable implementation of transgender-health objectives in medical education faces persistent institutional barriers. These barriers are rooted in normative biases inherent to biomedical knowledge production, and an understanding of categories of sex and gender as uncomplicated. Medical schools should facilitate trans-inclusive educational strategies to combat transgender-health inequities, which should include a critical stance toward binary conceptualizations of sex and gender throughout the curriculum.

Keywords: Gender identity; Health equity; LGBT+; Medical education; Queer theory; Systematic review; Training interventions; Trans-inclusive healthcare; Transgender health; Transgender pedagogy.

Publication types

  • Review