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Sexual Health of Dutch Medical Students: Nothing to Worry about

by Freek Fickweiler, Joost C. Keers, Willibrord C M Weijmar Schultz
Journal of Sexual Medicine ()

Abstract

Introduction.  Little is known about the sexual lives and development of medical students because of relatively small sample sizes and, in particular, low response rates in research. Enhancing medical students' awareness and understanding of sexual behavior is imperative, as gaps in knowledge might impede effective sexual health consultations in their later professional practice. Aim.  The aim of this study was to provide insight into the sexual lives and development of medical students. Main Outcome Measures.  The main outcome measures of this study are demographic, contextual, and sexual data based on validated surveys. Methods.  Preclinical medical students aged under 26 years were approached during scheduled classes and by e-mail to complete a web-based questionnaire. Our results were compared with international and Dutch normative data. Ordinal regression analysis and Pearson's correlation analysis were used to assess relationships between variables. Results.  A total of 1,598 questionnaires were returned (response rate 52%: 1,198 by women, 400 by men). There were 719 first-year students (mean age 19.17 years) and 879 third-year students (mean age 21.5 years). Gender distribution differences were seen in all the cohorts and were corrected for. Compared with international and Dutch (88%) normative data, our first- (62.7%; P < 0.001) and third-year (79.9%; P = 0.018) medical students had less sexual experience and showed different advancements in sexual behavior. However, these differences decreased, which suggests that medical students "catch-up" as their age increases. Sexual behavior in our sample did not differ from international data, except for a strikingly high sexual satisfaction (80%). We also confirmed that social and environmental characteristics change with alterations in sexual behavior. Although contraceptive measures were used more frequently (98%; P = 0.006), sexually transmitted diseases were more common (4.6%; P = 0.008), which suggests inappropriate use of protective measures. Independent predictive determinants for protective sexual behavior were the form of relationship (P < 0.001; OR = 1.97) and sexual orientation (P = 0.009; odds ratio = 2.26). Conclusion.  These data provide insight into the sexuality of medical students. The results of this study reliably clarify previous findings and form a solid basis for further research. Fickweiler F, Keers JC, and Weijmar Schultz WCM. Sexual health of dutch medical students: Nothing to worry about. J Sex Med 2011;8:2450-2460.

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