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PLoS One. 2018 Sep 20;13(9):e0204104. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0204104. eCollection 2018.

Comparing medical, dental, and nursing students' preparedness to address lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer health.

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Department of OBGYN, University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health; Madison, WI, United States of America.
Department of Oral Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, United States of America.
Department of Internal Medicine, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, United States of America.
School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, United States of America.
The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, United States of America.
Department of Business Administration, Harvard Business School, Boston, MA, United States of America.
School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, United States of America.



Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) populations face multiple health disparities including barriers to healthcare. Few studies have examined healthcare trainees' perceptions of their preparedness to care for LGBTQ populations and none have compared perceptions of training across medicine, dental medicine, and nursing. We aimed to understand variations across disciplines in LGBTQ health by assessing medical, dental, and nursing students' perceptions of preparedness across three domains: comfort levels, attitudes, and formal training.


We developed a 12-item survey with an interprofessional panel of LGBTQ students from the schools of medicine, dental medicine, and nursing at a top-tier private university in the United States. Any student enrolled full time in any of the three schools were eligible to respond. We performed descriptive statistical analyses and examined patterns in responses using Kruskal-Wallis tests and an ordered logistic regression model.


1,010 students from the Schools of Medicine, Dental Medicine, and Nursing responded to the survey for an overall response rate of 43%. While 70-74% of all student respondents felt comfortable treating LGBTQ patients, fewer than 50% agreed that their formal training had prepared them to do so. Overall, 71-81% of students reported interest in receiving formal LGBTQ health education, though dental students were significantly less likely than medical students to report this interest (OR 0.53, p<0.01). Respondents who identified as LGBQ were significantly less likely than heterosexual students to agree that training was effective (OR 0.55, p<0.01) and that their instructors were competent in LGBTQ health (OR 0.56, p<0.01).


Despite high comfort levels and positive attitudes towards LGBTQ health, most student respondents did not report adequate formal preparation. There were some significant differences between disciplines, but significant gaps in training exist across disciplines. Health professional schools should develop formal content on LGBTQ health and utilize this content as an opportunity for interprofessional training.

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