Students’ sexual knowledge, attitudes toward sex, and willingness to treat sexual concerns
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In the research reported here, the authors examined the relation of 82 medical students’ feelings about sex to their level of sexual knowledge, willingness to treat patients with sexual concerns, and participation in an elective sex education course. The results showed that the erotophobic students (those with negative feelings about sexuality) had significantly lower levels of sexual knowledge and were significantly less likely to participate in an elective human sexuality course than the erotophilic students (those with positive feelings about sexuality). Moreover, the erotophobic students who took part in the sexuality course benefited from it less than did the erotophilic students as measured by their willingness to treat patients with sexual concerns. Finally, although the students overall were relatively knowledgeable about sex and were relatively willing to treat patients with sexual concerns, troubling gaps in specific sexual knowledge and in willingness to treat patients with certain sexual concerns (such as acquired immune deficiency syndrome) were identified. Medical schools need to structure sex education in ways that take account of students’ ambivalent feelings about sex and need to provide sex education that increases both sexual knowledge and willingness to treat patients with sexual concerns.
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