Education And Debate

Assessment of training in psychosexual medicine

BMJ 1994; 308 doi: (Published 09 April 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;308:969
  1. N Mathers,
  2. M Bramley,
  3. K Draper,
  4. S Snead,
  5. A Tobert
  1. Department of General Practice, University of Sheffield Medical School, Sheffield S1O 2RX
  2. Psychosexual Problem Clinic, Northern General Hospital, Sheffield Psychosexual Problem Clinic, Lewisham and North Southwark Health District, London.
  3. Psychosexual Problem Clinic, Wolverhampton Health District, Wolverhampton.20Psychosexual Problem Clinic, Nottingham Health District, Nottingham
  1. Correspondence to: Dr Mathers.

    The Institute of Psychosexual Medicine offers training in the treatment of psychosexual problems to medically qualified doctors. Training takes place in fortnightly seminars in which trainees present and discuss real cases. Assessment of cases presented at the beginning and end of the six term basic training showed appreciable improvement in doctors' abilities. The proportion of doctors meeting each of the 14 predetermined clinical objectives rose. Factors which affected the amount of improvement were the initial score, the number of cases presented at the seminars, the occupation of the leader, and the duration of training. Accreditation by the Institute of Psychosexual Medicine was shown to be an appropriate outcome measure for the achievement of the required standards for practising psychosexual medicine.

    “We cannot manage to have sex,” “why is sex so painful?” “I don't want sex since the baby,” or “why can't I get it up, doctor?” are complaints often heard in today's medical practice.1 Many agencies offer training in the treatment of sexual complaints,*RF 2-5* but in the United Kingdom the Institute of Psychosexual Medicine is the only professional body in this subject which confines its training and accreditation for membership to medically qualified doctors.6

    In this paper we describe the institute's training process, illustrate changes in the clinical skills of doctors treating psychosexual and related psychosomatic problems and assess these changes quantitatively to determine the relative influence of factors associated with the training.

    Origins and setting

    The Institute of Psychosexual Medicine evolved from the in service training initiated by the Family Planning Association in 1958 and led by psychoanalyst Michael Balint.7 The demand for training grew as doctors discovered that patients' sexual problems required skilled help. Tom Main, another psychoanalyst, pioneered a workshop where psychosexually trained doctors could acquire leadership abilities.8 The accredited leaders then provided psychosexual training …

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