Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Health Awareness Week marks a time for health care providers to come together to promote LGBT health and to increase awareness as to the unique health needs of the LGBT community. The LGBT community faces many health disparities and challenges in accessing health care. Sadly, members of the LGBT community continue to face bias and discrimination in the health care setting.
A study conducted by Smith & Mathews (2007) found that as many as 18% of physicians surveyed reported feeling uncomfortable treating LGBT patients. Despite the importance of disclosure in the healthcare setting, many LGBT patients are left feeling uncomfortable in doing so with their health care providers for fear of bias (Eliason, 2001). In addition, LGBT patients face health disparities related to systemic factors, social discrimination, and lack of access to culturally competent health care (Ard & Makadon, 2017).
The National LGBT Education Center has identified several ways that health care providers can come together during this week to support the LGBT community including:
Host or sponsor an event with a local LGBT organization
Hold a town hall meeting to engage LGBT community members in the health care delivery process
Host a grand rounds or training session at your health care facility
Create a welcoming environment for your LGBT clients by placing health posters and brochures in your facility that are specific to the health care needs of the LGBT community (see www.lgbthealtheducation.org)
Obtain training that will enable you to provide the best care to your LGBT clients (see www.lgbthealtheducation.org)
Promoting a welcoming health care environment
Additional training for clinicians
Ard, M. & Cooke, G. (2011). Addressing intimate partner violence in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender patients. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 26 (8), p. 930-933.
Eliason, M.J. & Schope, R. (2001). Does “Don’t ask don’t tell” apply to health care? Lesbian, gay, and bisexual people’s disclosure to health care providers. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Medicine Association, 5 (4), p. 125-34.
Smith, D.M. & Matthews, W.C. (2007). Physicians’ attitudes toward homosexuality and HIV: survey of a California Medical Society. Journal of Homosexuality, 52 (3), p. 1-9.
The National LGBT Health Education Center (March 2017). LGBT Health Awareness Week 2017: Coming Soon! Retrieved from: https://www.lgbthealtheducation.org/events/
Dr. April Dobroth, DNP, FNP-c is a practicing clinician and Frontier Nursing University Southwest Regional Clinical Faculty (RCF) member.