German Medical Students' Interest in and Knowledge about Human Sexuality in 1972 and 2012


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Abstract

Introduction.During the 1970s, a growing number of medical schools began to recognize the importance of medical education concerning human sexuality. Currently, most medical schools provide at least some instruction in human sexuality.Aim.In light of this development, the present study aimed to compare the interest in and knowledge about human sexuality of medical students from two different time periods.Methods.The answers to a self-constructed questionnaire of 236 students in 1972 were compared with those of 259 students in 2012. Students were asked whether they were interested in education regarding human sexuality and which specific topics they felt should be included in the medical curriculum. The students' knowledge in the following domains was assessed: sexual development, sexual behavior, sexual physiology and psychology, and sexual medicine.Main Outcome Measures.The two cohorts were compared with regard to those specific sexuality-related topics in which the students were most and least interested in. Furthermore, the number of correct responses to the knowledge questions was compared.Results.While in 1972, 99.2% of the students were interested in medical education about human sexuality, in 2012, 80.3% showed an interest. The connection of disorders from different medical disciplines with sexuality was rated as most interesting by both the students from 1972 and 2012. Medical students from 2012 gave 50.3% correct answers to the knowledge questions, whereas students from 1972 correctly answered 46.3% of the questions.Conclusions.Although interest in education concerning human sexuality has decreased, the majority of students view it as an important topic. Nevertheless, medical students still lack knowledge about important aspects of human sexuality (e.g., psychosexual development and relative safety of different contraceptives). Therefore, more time should be dedicated to education concerning human sexuality and its cultural, societal, and health aspects in particular. Turner D, Jopt K, Nieder TO, and Briken P. German medical students' interest in and knowledge about human sexuality in 1972 and 2012. J Sex Med 2014;11:1914–1926.

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