Exploring health care professionals’ experiences of supporting LGBTQ+ patients: a qualitative study
Patients from the LGBTQ+ community report negative healthcare experiences, such as healthcare professionals (HCPs) making assumptions about their identities. Research shows that HCPs report not having enough knowledge to facilitate an open conversation with patients from the LGBTQ+ community, leading to patients feeling ignored.
To explore HCPs’ experiences of supporting patients from the LGBTQ+ community.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with HCPs recruited from the research teams’ professional network. Data were analysed using deductive thematic analysis.
HCPs reported positive and negative experiences, as well as a variety of barriers and facilitators to effective communication, with patients from the LGBTQ+ community. HCPs discussed how clinical practice could improve, for example, by developing more inclusive training that is specific to the HCPs’ clinical group.
HCP training needs to be more inclusive of LGBTQ+ identities. It should be tailored to the HCPs’ patient group as this better reflects the varied needs of different clinical groups.
LGBTQ+ is an umbrella term that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (Montz, 2021). It represents a variety of sexual orientations and gender identities that are not heterosexual or cisgender (a person whose gender identity matches with the gender they were assigned at birth) (Montz, 2021). Increased acceptance of people from the LGBTQ+ community is visible in the development of more inclusive UK laws (Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act 2013; Gender Recognition Act 2004; Equality Act 2010). The public has also reported increased acceptance of LGBTQ+ people (Nolsoe, 2021). Despite these developments, individuals that are LGBTQ+ still face inequalities in the healthcare sector. A UK survey showed that 108 000 people who identified as LGBTQ+ felt that their health needs were not being met by the healthcare system (Government Equalities Office, 2018). Research has shown that people who are LGBTQ+ are more likely to have negative experiences when accessing healthcare than non-LGBTQ+ people (Elliot et al, 2015). They often report that healthcare professionals (HCPs) do not have sufficient knowledge and experience to be able to meet their healthcare needs (McNeill et al, 2023) and that they have to educate them on health issues related to gender-identity, such as hormones (Willis et al, 2020).
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