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

M. Endle, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden
T. Al-Haidari, University of Baghdad, Iraq
C. Benedetto, Sant´Anna University Hospital, Italy
J. Christilaw, University of British Columbia, Canada
F. El Kak, American University of Beirut, UK
D. Galimberti, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina
C. Garcia-Moreno, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland
M. Gutierrez, Instituto de Salud Popular (INSAP), Peru
S. Ibrahim, UNICEF Iraq, Iraq
Marleen Temmerman, Aga Khan University


Our aim was to investigate the inclusion of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) topics in medical curricula and the perceived need for, feasibility of, and barriers to teaching SRHR. 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 χ2 test. Text data were analyzed by thematic analysis. 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 with 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 with 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.