JOHNS HOPKINS (US) — Not even one in five trainee obstetrics and gynecology doctors in the United States receives formal training in menopause medicine, training most of them say they want.
A new survey, published in the journal Menopause, shows that some American ob/gyn residency programs fail to offer trainees any formal curriculum or clinical experience focused primarily on women’s pre- and post-menopausal health.
“Our results suggest that to serve a fast-growing population of aging women in the boomer generation and beyond, ob/gyn residency programs need to address this training gap,” says senior investigator Wen Shen, assistant professor of gynecology and obstetrics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
“Residents who participated in our study have stressed that they want more knowledge and experience in this field, and an improved comfort level in treating menopausal symptoms.”
The 2010 US census estimates a population of 50 million menopausal women by 2020, an average age of menopause at 51, and a life expectancy for American women of 85. Consequently, Shen notes, an enormous group of women will live one-third of their lives after menopause.
Researchers emailed a Web-based survey to 258 ob/gyn residency training directors asking that they forward the assessment to their residents and confirm that they had done so. Among the 510 residents who responded, only 100 reported that their program had a formal menopause learning curriculum. Only 78 said they had a defined menopause clinic as part of their residency.
“It’s clear from the results that the residents who responded admit that their knowledge and clinical management skills of menopause medicine are inadequate,” says lead study author Mindy S. Christianson, a clinical fellow in gynecology and obstetrics.
About 70 percent of residents said they wanted more expertise in menopause physiology, hormone and non-hormone therapy, menopause-related bone health, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic symptoms.
Shen, a board-certified gynecologist who specializes in treating menopausal women, says it is particularly striking that 40 to 60 percent of fourth-year residents who responded to the survey—those soon to complete postdoctoral training—said they needed to know more.
“Our study has limitations and the largest was the low response rate from residency program directors and the residents,” adds Shen, who says there are about 5,000 ob/gyn residents in the United States.
“Nonetheless, a majority of our study respondents indicated they were barely comfortable in managing women with menopause-specific problems.”
Source: Johns Hopkins University