Medical schools are providing inadequate training to new doctors in LGBTI health issues, new research has shown.

A study of universities in New Zealand, published in the New Zealand Medical Journal, revealed that medical students want to learn about LGBTI health but are not receiving that training, Radio NZ has reported.

While two thirds of the student doctors surveyed said the topic was important, 54 per cent reported that their course contained zero LGBTI content, and another 33 per cent said it included only “a little”.

Almost three quarters of the students surveyed said they did not know if their university provided faculty support for teaching about LGBTI health, with only 9 per cent saying there was support.

University of Otago researcher Dr Charlene Rapsey said that LGBTI health content in medical school was not covered until third year, but should start earlier.

“It represents to the students that it is something that’s important and we recognise they see it as important as well,” she said.

Dr Rapsey said that time was a barrier against including LGBTI content in medical school training.

“It’s a really full curriculum and so we can’t include everything, but we need to raise awareness about a broad range of topics and make sure students have the skills to follow that up later on,” she said.

“It’s always a balancing act of all these things that are really important.”

Members of the community had raised concerns about doctors’ knowledge of LGBTI issues, which medical schools wanted to address, Dr Rapsey said.

In Australia, LGBTI people frequently report that doctors and other healthcare providers have inadequate knowledge of health issues affecting them, especially in regional areas.

Trans and intersex people have particular trouble finding doctors who have the training to manage their health needs, with people who have intersex variations often facing inappropriate medical care from birth through to adulthood.

As well as issues with medical training, the Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) has identified discrimination, homophobia and transphobia as potential barriers to LGBTI people receiving equitable healthcare.

AMSA has called for Australian universities to incorporate education in LGBTI health, cultural competency and respectful care into their medical curricula.

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