When lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people visit a doctor or other health care provider, the care they receive should be as good as that which anyone else would receive. However, according to Guidelines for Care of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Patients1, published by the Gay & Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA), studies show that LGBT populations, although they have the same basic health needs as the general population, experience health disparities and barriers related to sexual orientation and/or gender identity or expression.
Examples of LGBT Health Disparities, According to a 2011 Report by the Institute of Medicine2
- The burden of HIV falls disproportionately on young men, particularly young black men, who have sex with men.
- LGB youth are at increased risk for suicidal ideation and attempts, as well as for depression.
- Lesbians and bisexual women may use preventive health services less frequently than heterosexual women.
- Lesbians and bisexual women may be at greater risk of obesity and have higher rates of breast cancer than heterosexual women.
The GLMA states that many patients avoid or delay care or receive inappropriate or inferior care because of perceived or real homophobia, biphobia and transphobia and discrimination by health care providers and institutions.
To address these problems, health care providers can take positive steps to promote the health of their LGBT patients by examining their practices, office environments, policies and staff training for ways to improve access to quality health care for LGBT people.
According to the GLMA, health care providers can use some simple strategies to make their practice environment more welcoming and safe for LGBT patients:
- Modify intake forms to ensure they are inclusive for LGBT patients.
- Create an environment where open dialogue can occur.
- Maintain confidentiality.
- Promote a commitment to non-discrimination.
To learn more about equality in health care for LGBT patients, click on the links below:
"Improving the Health of LGBT Populations" - Article from Highmark Clinical Views, Issue 2 2012.
"Equality in Health Care for LGBT Patients: Strategies to Help Physicians Create a Welcoming Environment" - Article from an issue of Highmark Clinical Views, 2010.
- "Guidelines for Care of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Patients." Gay & Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA). © 2006.
- Institute of Medicine (IOM). 2011."The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding." Washington, D.C. The National Academies Press.