All patients’ needs are different and diverse, and every physician wishes to provide the best care and treatment for each encounter. It is important to consider LGBTQ+ healthcare trends that may impact provider and patient outcomes as well as overall wellness.
Emergency Room Frequency
It is estimated that only 26% of U.S. emergency room physicians receive training for supporting the unique needs of LGBTQ+ patients, while the majority of LQBTQ+ individuals rely on ERs as their primary care facility. This presents quite a conundrum, as patients may be experiencing a critical injury or condition, and the ER may be ill-prepared to understand the big picture and potential cultural implications due to incomplete training.
Primary Care Disconnect
Research suggests that LGBTQ+ patients may be less likely to have a long-standing relationship with a primary care physician due to several potential factors. There may be a financial barrier or lack of health insurance to cover general check-up and follow-up visits for preventative care. Also, there needs to exist a respectful, non-biased relationship between the practitioner and LGBTQ+ patient. Whether conscious or unconscious, bias can exist, even in the waiting room setting with a front desk staff member using incorrect pronouns. LGBTQ+ healthcare trends suggest that a patient is less likely to return to the same clinic or hospital where they had felt uncomfortable or even marginalized in the past.
Transgender Patient Care Disparity
Training gaps are especially evident with transgender patient support. Think about a trans male patient that is experiencing pain in his thigh; providers may believe this is related to a testicular condition, but the pain could also be related to an injection site for his hormone therapy. Are intake documentation and/or practitioners asking the right questions, and are these questions being asked appropriately?
Understanding the current climate with LGBTQ+ healthcare is a beneficial first step to take. It is universally helpful to understand the unique challenges that LGBTQ+ patients may face in a clinical setting, then learn how to properly address these concerns through intentional learning opportunities, training, and cultural humility.