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Health Disparities Among LGB Women From Experiences With Their Healthcare Providers

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This study investigates how the patient-provider relationship between lesbian, gay, and bisexual women and their healthcare providers influences their access to, utilization of, and experiences within healthcare environments. Nineteen participants, ages 18 to 34, were recruited using convenience and snowball

This study investigates how the patient-provider relationship between lesbian, gay, and bisexual women and their healthcare providers influences their access to, utilization of, and experiences within healthcare environments. Nineteen participants, ages 18 to 34, were recruited using convenience and snowball sampling. Interviews were conducted inquiring about their health history and their experiences within the healthcare system in the context of their sexual orientation. The data collected from these interviews was used to create an analysis of the healthcare experiences of those who identify as queer. Although the original intention of the project was to chronicle the experiences of LGB women specifically, there were four non-binary gender respondents who contributed interviews. In an effort to not privilege any orientation over another, the respondents were collectively referred to as queer, given the inclusive and an encompassing nature of the term. The general conclusion of this study is that respondents most often experienced heterosexism rather than outright homophobia when accessing healthcare. If heterosexism was present within the healthcare setting, it made respondents feel uncomfortable with their providers and less likely to inform them of their sexuality even if it was medically relevant to their health outcomes. Gender, race, and,socioeconomic differences also had an effect on the patient-provider relationship. Non-binary respondents acknowledged the need for inclusion of more gender options outside of male or female on the reporting forms often seen in medical offices. By doing so, medical professionals are acknowledging their awareness and knowledge of people outside of the binary gender system, thus improving the experience of these patients. While race and socioeconomic status were less relevant to the context of this study, it was found that these factors have an affect on the patient-provider relationship. There are many suggestions for providers to improve the experiences of queer patients within the healthcare setting. This includes nonverbal indications of acknowledgement and acceptance, such as signs in the office that indicate it to be a queer friendly space. This will help in eliminating the fear and miscommunication that can often happen when a queer patient sees a practitioner for the first time. In addition, better education on medically relevant topics to queer patients, is necessary in order to eliminate disparities in health outcomes. This is particularly evident in trans health, where specialized education is necessary in order to decrease poor health outcomes in trans patients. Future directions of this study necessitate a closer look on how race and socioeconomic status have an effect on a queer patient's relationship with their provider.

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Date Created
2016-05