Literature Review: The Lack of Sexual and Gender Minority Curriculum in U.S. Medical Schools
Keywords: sexual and gender minorities; LGBTQ; medical education; inclusive healthcare; medical curriculum; transgender health; health policy; minority healthcare
Health outcomes of sexual and gender minorities are often disproportionately negative compared to their heterosexual counterparts. One reason is that healthcare providers report low confidence treating SGM patients and a low rate of interaction with this population. The curriculum being taught in U.S. medical schools is largely insufficient in teaching the healthcare needs of SGM individuals. Consequently, physicians are underprepared to treat these patients, leading to large health disparities. Physicians show improved levels of knowledge and confidence treating SGM patients after additional educational efforts, showing that adding SGM healthcare modules to medical schools will better prepare physicians to treat these patients. This would decrease health disparities and improve patient experiences and health outcomes. Additional curriculum should be multi-modal and include SGM individuals in their creation and implementation. This method has been shown to encourage the greatest improvement in physician knowledge and confidence working with patients. This paper also includes policy recommendations geared towards policymakers and stakeholders to guide future initiatives to improve the health outcomes of SGM patients. It is crucial that this conversation around social determinants of health leads to policy and structural changes. Future research in this area is needed and future policy changes or initiatives should be studied for their effectiveness.
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Kyra Varley is a student at Duke University studying Social Determinants of Health and Inequality. She is passionate about investigating the factors leading to health disparities and eliminating them on a systemic level. Her previous research experience is with the Duke Center for Health Policy and Inequalities and has studied across Europe comparing the healthcare systems of various countries. As an aspiring physician, she will use her knowledge of the social components of health to improve patient experiences. Her experience is in both physical health, as an Emergency Medical Technician, and mental health as a Crisis Text Line Counselor.
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