Being a Good Doctor for ALL of Your Patients: Specific Needs of LGBT Patients


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Presentation from a talk by Dr. Maile O'Hara at SUNY Downstate, given during the 2010 "Sex in Medicine Week".

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Being a Good Doctor for ALL of Your Patients: Specific Needs of LGBT Patients

  1. 1. Being a Good Doctor for ALL of Your Patients: Specific Needs of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender PatientsMaile O’Hara, Ph.D.<br />
  2. 2. Homophobic Discrimination in the Medical Field<br />Discrimination toward LGBTQ patients:<br />Sample: Nursing students, 1998<br />Results: 8-12% “despised” LGBTQ people, 5-12% found LGBTQ people “disgusting,” 40-43% stated LGBTQ people should keep their sexuality private<br />Discrimination toward LGBTQ medical colleagues <br />Sample: Physicians in New Mexico, 1996<br />Results: 4% would deny LGBTQ people into medical school, 10% did not support LGBTQ physicians going into OBGYN, 20% of general practitioners said they would discontinue referrals to LGBTQ colleagues<br />
  3. 3. Providing Equal Care: Language<br />Use term “relationship status” versus “marital status” <br />Including relationship status options like “partner”<br />When asking for information about significant others include “partner”<br />Include “Transgender” as a gender option and providing room for explanation<br />* Recommendations from the Gay Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA)<br />
  4. 4. Providing Equal Care: In the Patient Interview<br />Neutral, respectful, and non-judgmental tone<br />Be empathic and recognize that many LGBTQ patients have had negative experiences with providers in the past<br />Ask open ended questions<br />Address issues of confidentiality in terms of test results, who has access to charts, reporting to insurance companies, right to not answer questions, exceptions to confidentiality, and specifically address documenting sexual orientation<br />Make sexual histories routine for all patients<br />Make assessment of risk behaviors routine for all patients (only 20% of gay men reported discussing HIV risk factors with providers, and of that 20%, only 21% said their providers initiated the conversation)<br />Tell all patients that taking their sexual history and risk assessment is routine for all patients, i.e. “In order to provide the best possible care of you I need to to understand in what ways you are sexually active”<br />Ask about behaviors, not sexual orientation, i.e. “Are you sexually active?”, “Do you have sex with men, women, or both?” “How many partners have you had, with what frequency to you use condoms, and what kinds of sexual contact do you have, anal, genital, and/or oral?”<br />* GLMA<br />
  5. 5. Providing Equal Care: In the Office Environment<br />Post confidentiality policy<br />Posting nondiscrimination policy that includes LGBTQ people<br />Provide pamphlets targeting LBGTQ patients<br />Posters targeting LBGTQ patients<br />Acknowledging World Aids Day and Gay Pride<br />Including LGBTQ magazines in the waiting area<br />
  6. 6. Helpful Tips<br />Know the difference between transgender (those who’s anatomic sex or perceived gender differ from their gender expression and/or identity) and transsexual (those who consistently identify as the gender other than their congenital reproductive anatomy, and intend to live permanently as this gender), and transvestites (cross-dressing, does not include gender identity) <br />*HIV InSite “Exploring Your Patient’s Gender Identity<br />Do not equate sexual orientation with gender identity<br />Do not equate having children with heterosexuality<br />Assess patient knowledge of HIV and STDs<br />Give equal access to partners as you would to spouses<br />With LGBTQ families include all primary caregivers in discussions<br />LBGTQ youth need special assessment of emotional functioning and substance abuse<br />Children can understand their sexual orientation and gender<br />Sexual orientation and gender identity can change over time<br />Many people who identify as having a particular sexual orientation have a range of sexual experiences <br />All people born women need pap smears including transgender men and female to male transsexuals unless they have had a full hysterectomy<br />Transgender men and female to male transsexuals need breast exams even after breast reconstruction<br />Transgender women, and male to female transsexuals need prostate exams<br />Individuals receiving hormone replacement therapy need to be monitored by experienced providers<br />MSM may need STD screening from the pharynx and rectum depending on sexual behavior<br />Lesbians are also at risk for STDs<br />Do not ask lesbians about birth control, but rather ask what kinds of protection is used, i.e. dental dam, finger condoms, or gloves<br />It is important to screen all people for domestic violence regardless of orientation<br />You can always ask questions, for example “Do you prefer to be referred to as he or she?”<br />You can always apologize for mistakes or offending<br />*From Culturally Competent Care for GLBT People: Recommendation for Healthcare Providers<br />
  7. 7. Providing Equal Care: Continued Care<br />Networking with LGBTQ referrals<br />Community centers<br />Counseling services<br />Legal resources<br />Have colleagues to consult with<br />
  8. 8. Resources<br />Gay and Lesbian Medical Association<br /> 459 Fulton Street, Suite 107<br /> San Francisco, CA 94102<br /> Website<br /> Phone 415-255-4547 <br />The Center: The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center
208 West 13th Street
New York, NY 10011
Phone: 212-620-7310<br />Housing Works<br /> 7 Willoughby St., 2nd Floor<br />Brooklyn, NY 11201<br /> <br /> Phone (347) 473-7400<br />Gay Men’s Health Crisis <br />GMHC, 119 West 24 Street, <br />New York, NY 10011<br /> Website<br />“Need to talk” help line 1-800-243-7692<br />Lambda Legal Defense Fund<br /> 120 Wall St. # 15<br /> New York, NY 10005-3905<br /> Website<br /> Phone 212-809-8585<br />