Sex and gender in medical education: A national student survey

Marjorie R. Jenkins, Alyssa Herrmann, Amanda Tashjian, Tina Ramineni, Rithika Ramakrishnan, Donna Raef, Tracy Rokas, John Shatzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background: Gender- and sex-specific medicine is defined as the practice of medicine based on the understanding that biology (dictated by sex chromosomes) and social roles (gender) are important in and have implications for prevention, screening, diagnosis, and treatment in men and women. In light of the many ways that sex and gender influence disease presentation and patient management, there have been various initiatives to improve the integration of these topics into medical education curriculum. Although certain schools may include the topics, their impact on the student body's knowledge has not been as fully studied. By studying the opinions of US allopathic and osteopathic-enrolled students on the extent to which their schools address these topics and their understanding of these topics, this study examined the role of gender specific medicine in the US medical school curriculum. Methods: An email solicitation with link to an anonymous survey was sent to approximately 35,876 student members of five US medical student organizations. The survey instrument consisted of yes/no, multiple choice, and attitude awareness questions. Data was analyzed as a complete data set to evaluate national trends and via subset analysis using chi-square, paired t test, and one-way anova. Results: A total of 1097 students responded. The majority of respondents strongly agreed that sex and gender medicine (SGBM) improves patient management (96.0 %) and should be included as a part of the medical school curriculum (94.4 %). Only 2.4 % of participants agreed that SGBM is the same as Women's Health. When asked specifically about inclusion of an identified sex and gender-based medicine curriculum at their institution, students answered not sure at 40.8, 25.1, 19.1, and 20.3 % from first year to fourth year, respectively. Males reported a higher rate of exposure to SGBM content areas (in medical history taking, domestic violence) than women. Conclusions: Medical students recognize the differentiation between SGBM principles and women's health, and understand the translational value of sex and gender-specific principles in the clinical setting. However, current curricular offerings fall short of providing students with adequate coverage of specific evidence-based health differences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number45
JournalBiology of Sex Differences
StatePublished - Oct 14 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Endocrinology


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