Open Access Research article

Medical students as sexual health peer educators: who benefits more?

Florence Bretelle12*, Raha Shojai1, Julie Brunet3, Sophie Tardieu4, Marie Christine Manca5, Joelle Durant6, Claire Ricciardi7, Leon Boubli8 and George Leonetti8

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, Gynepole Marseille, AP-HM, AMU, Division of Women and Child Care, Hôpital Nord, Chemin des Bourelly 13915, Marseille Cedex 20, France

2 UMR CNRS-IRD 6236 –Marseille Faculty of Medicine, Aix Marseille Université, Marseille INSERM U1095, France

3 CIC 1409, Assistance Publique des Hôpitaux de Marseille (AP-HM), Aix Marseille Université, AMU, Hôpital de la Conception, 147 bd Baille, 13005 Marseille, France

4 Medical Evaluation, Department of Public Health, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Marseille, Aix Marseille Université, Marseille, France

5 Department of Medical Genetics, l’Hôpital d'Enfants de la Timone, Marseille, France

6 National Education Authority of Aix-Marseille, Education Nationale, Aix-en-Provence, France

7 Family Planning of Bouches-du-Rhône, Marseille, France

8 Faculty of Medicine, Aix Marseille Université, AMU, Marseille, France

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BMC Medical Education 2014, 14:162  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-162

Published: 7 August 2014



A prospective study was conducted to evaluate the impact of an educational reproductive health program on medical student peer educators and the secondary school pupils whom they taught.


The Marseille School of Medicine and ten public secondary schools participated in the study. Medical students were recruited and trained as peer educators to promote sexual health in the secondary schools. The medical students and secondary school pupils were evaluated before and after education program. The main outcome measure was the sexual health knowledge score on a 20-item questionnaire (maximum score 20).


A total of 3350 students attended the peer-led course conducted by 107 medical students. The medical students’ score increased significantly before and after the course (from 15.2 ± 1.8 to 18.3 ± 0.9; p < 0.001). The knowledge score of the pupils increased (from 7.8 ± 4 to 13.5 ± 4.4; p < 0.001). The girls’ score was significantly higher than the boys’ score after the course, but not before (14.5 ± 3.3 vs 12.5 ± 4.6; p < 0.001). Prior to the course, the score among the female medical students was significantly higher than that of the males. The overall knowledge increase was not significantly different between medical students and secondary school pupils (mean 3.1 ± 1 and 5.7 ± 4 respectively; p > 0.05).


The program was effective in increasing the knowledge of medical students as well as secondary school pupils. Male sexual health knowledge should be reinforced.

Education; Reproductive health; Public health; Teenagers