The Knowledge and Comfort of Urban Obstetricians and Gynecologists In Taking Patient Sexual Histories [11M]

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Public awareness of sexual-orientation and gender-identity diversity has grown, yet studies show that physicians are not comfortable taking complete sexual histories, which would address this diversity in behaviors, to benefit the physical and mental health of their patients. Medical schools and residency programs provide insufficient preparation. The objective of this study was to raise the physician participants’ awareness and gauge their interest in additional education.


We conducted an anonymous online survey among New York City (NYC) resident and attending obstetrician-gynecologists (OB/GYN’s). Likert items were used to gauge comfort levels in discussing sexual behavior generally, and regarding specific acts. Chi-square and Fisher-exact tests were used in the analysis.


92 OB/GYN’s responded to the survey. 19 of 92 (20.6%) were uncomfortable or only somewhat comfortable discussing general sexual behavior with patients. Responder’s gender did not affect the distribution of responses. Physicians with more training (PGY-5 and beyond) were significantly more likely to be comfortable discussing masturbation and sex toys (22/34 vs 22/52, P=.042); libido and dyspareunia (35/35 vs 36/52, P=.0003), and sexual activity of elderly patients (31/34 vs 35/52, P=.01). 72 of 88 respondents (81.8%) wanted to learn more about the topic. 83 of 88 respondents (94.3%) would appreciate further education.


This survey demonstrated the need for more formal education on sexual behavior, sexual health, and especially, alternative lifestyles, for both newly trained and experienced gynecologists. We hope to promote curriculum changes at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s and Mount Sinai West, for the diverse patient population in NYC.

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