DiversityNursing Blog

Culturally Competent Care For LGBTQ Patients

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Fri, Apr 20, 2018 @ 02:25 PM

sc-fam-lgbtq-health-care-0220Healthcare organizations strive to provide culturally competent care for individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ). Recent changes in society, including the legalization of gay marriage have raised public awareness of LGBTQ issues. Yet many healthcare professionals lack knowledge in some areas when caring for LGBTQ patients.

Michael Johnson, PhD, RN, understands the barriers faced by LGBTQ patients and the assumption often made by healthcare professionals that all patients are heterosexual. 

According to a Nurse.com article, Johnson said, “Some members of the LGBTQ community avoid seeking healthcare services because of previous negative experiences in which they faced discrimination. Studies have shown most LGBTQ patients want to be able to share their sexual orientation or gender identity with their healthcare provider, but are often reluctant to open up because they fear they may be treated badly or even refused care."

LGBTQ individuals have a long history of discrimination at the individual and institutional levels, including the healthcare system. They may check to see if the environment is a safe place to reveal personal information, especially about sexuality. Some things an individual may take note of during their time in your waiting room area include:

  • Your organization’s nondiscrimination policy: Is it in a visible location?
  • A rainbow flag, pink triangle, or other symbol of inclusiveness
  • Availability of unisex restrooms
  • Health education literature with diverse images and inclusive language, including information about LGBTQ health
  • Posters announcing days of observance such as World AIDS Day, Pride, and National Transgender Day of Remembrance

To understand LGBTQ populations and their health needs, it is important to first define the distinct core concepts of sexual orientation and gender identity. You can read about key LGBTQ terms here.

LGBTQ health requires specific attention from health care and public health professionals to address a number of disparities, including:

  • LGBT youth are 2 to 3 times more likely to attempt suicide.
  • LGBT youth are more likely to be homeless.
  • Lesbians are less likely to get preventive services for cancer.
  • Gay men are at higher risk of HIV and other STDs, especially among communities of color.
  • Lesbians and bisexual females are more likely to be overweight or obese.
  • Transgender individuals have a high prevalence of HIV/STDs, victimization, mental health issues, and suicide and are less likely to have health insurance than heterosexual or LGB individuals.
  • Elderly LGBT individuals face additional barriers to health because of isolation and a lack of social services and culturally competent providers.
  • LGBT populations have the highest rates of tobacco, alcohol, and other drug use.
 
lgbtq quote
Nurses should avoid asking any unnecessary questions. People are sometimes curious about LGBTQ people and their lives, which can lead them to want to learn more by asking the patient questions. However, like everyone else, LGBTQ people want to keep their medical and personal lives private. Before asking any personal questions, first ask yourself: “Is my question necessary for the patient’s care, or am I asking it for my own curiosity?" If for your own curiosity, it is not appropriate to ask. Think instead about: “What do I know? What do I need to know? How can I ask for the information I need to know in a sensitive way?"

Effectively serving LGBTQ patients requires you to understand the cultural context of their lives, and to modify your procedures, behavior, and language to be inclusive, non-judgmental, and helpful at all times. By doing this, healthcare staff can help ensure that LGBTQ patients receive the level of care that everyone deserves. What helpful information can you add regarding this topic?

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Topics: cultural competency, culturally competent care, LGBTQ, LGBTQ health disparities, LGBTQ Healthcare

New Study to Define Health Issues in LGBTQ Community

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Fri, Aug 25, 2017 @ 10:08 AM

LGBTQ_Symbols.jpg

The PRIDE study is the first of its kind. It aims to follow the same large group of LGBTQ people over the span of the next few decades. Enrollement is open to anyone who resides within the United States, identifies as a gender or sexual minority, and is over 18, its enrollment has surpassed 6,000 since launching in May.

We still lack a comprehensive understanding of the ways that being an LGBTQ person can influence one’s overall health, or of health disparities within the LGTBQ community itself. Researchers, Juno Obedin-Maliver and Mitchell Lunn, at the University of California–San Francisco are hoping to close that gap.

“Sexual and gender minorities make up between 2 and 6 percent of the population, however sexual orientation and gender identity are rarely asked about in health studies and they’re not included in fundamental metrics like the Census,” said Juno Obedin-Maliver, one of the principal investigators with the landmark effort, which is aptly titled the Population Research in Identity and Disparities for Equality Study — more simply referred to as the PRIDE Study. “It’s critical we have visibility into the health and health care experiences of these populations so we know where to direct our efforts. Without data, we’re flying blind.”

One of the big barriers we often found trying to encourage people to teach medical students, doctors or other health care providers about LGBTQ+ people was they said, “Well, there wasn’t enough evidence about the health care needs of the community.” And we kept giving lectures and complaining that the studies weren’t being done. We knew that health disparities were there, but we didn’t know how bad, how deep, how broad the problems were, or how comprehensive, because there wasn’t inclusion often in national studies. So Mitch and I said, “We’re both researchers, we’re both clinicians. Let’s stop complaining and do something about it.”

The goal is to eventually enroll about 100,000 people and follow them over the next 30 years, collecting data through an annual questionnaire. Questions will cover a range of health and social topics, such as physical activity, sleep, mental health, quality of life, insurance status, emergency care use, access to care, income, educational attainment, and family and social connections. 

“People are excited — it feels like they’re hungry to be heard and represented,” Obedin-Maliver said. “The PRIDE Study is by and for the community. Yes, it’s academically rigorous, but it’s also a labor of love and a commitment to giving back.”

For more information or to enroll in the PRIDE Study, which is based at the University of California-San Francisco, visit https://pridestudy.org.

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Topics: LGBTQ, LGBTQ Healthcare, LGBTQ community, LGBTQ health disparities, Pride study

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