Background : Several studies published to date suggest that transgender patients often have negative clinical experiences. Medical education represents an ideal place to rectify this issue by training future physicians to provide competent care, and develop interventions that ameliorate the marginalization of transgender patients. Researchers have thus far investigated the effect of panels and traditional lectures as vehicles for reform. To date, however, there is still limited research exploring the effect of small-group learning on student knowledge and attitudes of transgender medical issues. This study specifically assesses the effectiveness of small-group discussions in the medical curriculum at UC Riverside School of Medicine that focuses on the transgender population.
Methods : We conducted a longitudinal study with 58 second-year medical student participants from the University of California, Riverside School of Medicine. Attitudes towards transgender patients was assessed using the validated Transgender Attitudes and Beliefs Scale (TABS) and knowledge of transgender medical issues was measured with questions created by the investigators. Attitudes and knowledge were assessed one month before a small-group discussion and standardized patient interview, one week after this discussion and interview, and three months after.
Results : Although data collection will be completed later this week, preliminary results suggest that small group learning and interviews with standardized patients do not meaningfully change attitudes toward transgender individuals in general. However, a small-group learning session and a patient interview does appear to be effective at imparting knowledge concerning transgender health concerns. For example, between the first and second survey the number of students that correctly identified the likely risks of masculinizing hormone therapy increased by 49%, while the number of students that correctly identified the likely risks of feminizing hormone therapy increased by 42%.
Conclusions : The scarcity of data on the effectiveness of transgender medical education provides an excellent opportunity to contribute to the field and influence curricular development at University of California, Riverside, as well as at medical institutions throughout the country. These data can be used to identify, and potentially address educational barriers experienced by the medical student population to improving the provision of healthcare to address transgender needs.