Are sexual and reproductive health and rights taught in medical school? Results from a global survey

Document Type



Obstetrics and Gynaecology (East Africa); Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health


Objective: To investigate the inclusion of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) topics in medical curricula and the perceived need, feasibility, and barriers to teaching SRHR.

Methods: We distributed a survey with questions on SRHR content, and factors regulating SRHR content, to medical universities worldwide using chain referral. Associations between high SRHR content and independent variables were analyzed using unconditional linear regression or Chi Square test. Text data were analyzed by thematic analysis.

Results: We collected data from 219 respondents, 143 universities and 54 countries. Clinical SRHR topics such as safe pregnancy and childbirth (95.7%) and contraceptive methods (97.2%) were more frequently reported as taught compared to complex SRHR topics such as sexual violence (63.8%), unsafe abortion (65.7%), and the vulnerability of LGBTQIA persons (23.2%). High SRHR content was associated to high-income level (p=0.003) and low abortion restriction (p=0.042) but varied within settings. Most respondents described teaching SRHR as essential to the health of society. Complexity was cited as a barrier, as were cultural taboos, lack of stakeholder recognition, and dependency on fees and ranking.

Conclusion: While complex SRHR topics tend to be omitted from medical curricula, university teachers both support comprehensive SRHR education and recognize context-specific barriers.


International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics