Sex and gender specific health topics in medical student learners: pulse check eight years later

Ann Rydberg, Matthew R. Buras, Jaxon Quillen, Virginia Miller, Juliana M. Kling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: An essential component of patient-centered, individualized medicine is considering how sex and gender affect mechanisms of health and disease. Objectives: To assess medical students’ current knowledge of sex and gender specific health (SGSH) concepts compared to results from the same survey in 2012 to better inform development of curricular materials for medical education. Methods: A previously designed survey tool, which assessed current knowledge of sex and gender-based medicine of medical students, was emailed to all Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine (MCASOM) students on Minnesota, Arizona, and Florida campuses in 2020. Descriptive and qualitative thematic results were compared to the same survey administered in 2012 to students enrolled in MCASOM. Changes in the inclusion of SGSH topics were assessed over the eight years. Results: One hundred and one of 365 (27.7% response rate) surveys were returned with 2:1 female to male respondents with representation from all 4 years. The definitions of the terms “sex” and “gender” were correctly identified by most respondents (93.1%). However, only 36% (12/33) of questions related to other medical knowledge on SGSH topics had more than a 50% correct response rate. More than half of the students reported that SGSH topics were included in Gynecology, Cardiology, Pediatrics, and Immunology. SGSH topics were reported as not being routinely covered in Neurology and Nephrology, although more students said they were in 2020 then 2012. Sixty-two percent of students favored increasing SGSH in the current curriculum. Conclusions: Medical students appear to understand the definition of and importance of SGSH in education. While some improvements in coverage by subject matter and topic area appear to have occurred as reported by medical students, opportunity remains to more fully integrate SGSH concepts in medical school curricula.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number53
JournalBiology of Sex Differences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Endocrinology


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