Reflexivity as a tool for medical students to identify and address gender bias in clinical practice: A qualitative study

Patient Educ Couns. 2022 Dec;105(12):3521-3528. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2022.08.017. Epub 2022 Aug 30.

Abstract

Objectives: Gender bias interferes with medical care for both men and women, leading to health inequalities. Reflexivity is used in medical education to improve health provision. This study aims to understand if a reflective approach integrated in medical practice enables raising awareness of gender bias during medical school teaching.

Methods: We conducted this study in general ambulatory medicine in Lausanne Hospital, Switzerland with 160 Master's students. Through group discussions and reflection questionnaires, students were asked to discuss clinical cases they encountered focusing on potential gender bias. We analyzed the data using a thematic analysis approach.

Results: The reflection on the clinical reasoning steps from a real case identified gender bias at each stage of the clinical case management. The analysis revealed two factors that facilitated gender reflexivity: guidance from a gender expert and peer-to-peer exchange.

Conclusions: Our study shows that a reflective approach integrated in medical practice enables raising awareness of gender bias during medical teaching. It provides students with a systematic method they can apply in their future clinical work, thus improving care processes and experiences towards more equitable care.

Practice implications: All gender and medicine curricula should include teaching such as this linking theory and practice through reflexivity.

Keywords: Communication skills; Gender; Implicit bias; Medical education; Reflexivity.

MeSH terms

  • Education, Medical*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Qualitative Research
  • Schools, Medical
  • Sexism
  • Students, Medical*