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J Lesbian Stud. 2002 Oct;6(3-4):73-86. doi: 10.1300/J155v06n03_07.

A study of attitudes toward sexuality issues among health care students in australia.

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  • 1a School of Behavioural and Community Health Sciences, University of Sydney , PO Box 170 Lidcombe , NSW 1825 , Australia.


SUMMARY This study examined the attitudes of 1132 higher education students enrolled in health profession education degree programs. Students were asked to indicate their anticipated level of comfort in a variety of interactions including working with a lesbian client or a homosexual male, and asking a client about his or her sexual orientation. Students also indicated whether they perceived their degree program had dealt adequately with these issues. High levels of discomfort were identified in our large sample of students. Approximately 30% of the sample indicated they would be uncomfortable working with a lesbian client and 27% of the sample indicated that they would feel uncomfortable if working with a male homosexual client. There were significant differences for these two items depending on the student's gender. Female students indicated significantly higher levels of comfort in dealing with homosexual male clients than did their male counterparts. Male students indicated significantly greater comfort in dealing with lesbian clients. More than half of our sample indicated that they would not be comfortable asking about a client's sexual orientation. Over 75% of senior-year students believed that their degree program had not adequately dealt with these issues. The impact of homophobia and discomfort on the quality of care health professionals provide for lesbian and gay clients and the role of educational strategies to reduce this are discussed.


Homosexual; comfort; education; health care students; homophobia

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