A study of American medical schools suggests that they are not giving students enough training on lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender issues.

According to the research, most medical schools provide just five hours on LGBT health issues, while one third offer no training on the matter at all.

Previous studies show that LGBT people are more likely to smoke, drink, use drugs and suffer mental ill health than the general population.

Gay men are more at risk of HIV, while lesbians are less likely to attend cervical cancer screening.

The research is published in the September 7th issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Study author Dr Mitchell R Lunn of Harvard University said in a statement: “Every time a patient comes to a new doctor, that individual effectively has to ‘come out’ again.

“There is a lot of fear about how that is going to go. The fear of discrimination has pushed some people away from the doctor and some never return.”

But he added that the high response rate to the research suggested that college deans are interested in the area.