Caring for LGBTQIA+ Patients: How to Provide a Positive Experience


LGBTQIA+ community members can be more vulnerable to experiencing health disparities. For example, LGBTQIA+ individuals may not disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity to their health care providers, which can lead to limited access to culturally competent and affirming care. An inclusive and welcoming clinic will make a huge difference in the patient’s experience and willingness to seek medical treatment. Here, are some ways that clinicians can provide a positive experience for LGBTQIA+ patients.


LGBTQIA+ Healthcare Disparities


LGBTQIA+ individuals may not disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity to their health care providers, which can lead to limited access to culturally competent and affirming care. An inclusive and welcoming clinic will make a huge difference in the patient’s experience and willingness to seek medical treatment. Here are some ways that clinicians can provide a positive experience for LGBTQIA+ patients:

  1. Offer use of appropriate gender-neutral language for patients, staff, and records.
  2. Use correct pronouns for patients
  3. Use inclusive language in all communications
  4. Don’t use cross-gender terms for pregnant patients
  5. Use inclusive language in all communications
  6. Have staff wear badges with a preferred pronoun
  7. Put LGBTQIA+ equality statements on your website
  8. Create clinic policies that are LGBTQIA+-inclusive



Caring for Transgender Patients

One of the most important ways to make your clinic more inclusive of the LGBTQIA+ community is to hire transgender staff. Having someone who understands the medical needs of transgender patients will create an experience that feels safer and more welcoming.

Additionally, it is important to include gender-neutral bathrooms in your clinic. This will allow transgender patients to use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity, which will promote better health outcomes.

Lastly, clinics should provide mental health services for transgender individuals. Providing counseling services for transgender individuals is important for reducing depression, anxiety, and substance abuse—which are all common among this population.



Patient-Centered Care

One of the most important factors in providing a positive experience for LGBTQIA+ patients is patient-centered care. LGBTQIA+ patients need clinicians to be attuned to their needs and take into account their specific health needs.


To provide the best care, the following are some ways that clinicians should be open to learning about their patients.


Use patient-centered language. It’s important to use the appropriate pronouns, ask for preferred name/pronouns, and inquire about preferred language.

Be open to learning about LGBTQIA+ sexual health. Asking questions about sexual history may be uncomfortable, but it is crucial for providing appropriate treatment.

Provide location-specific care. Clinics should provide care in a location that is comfortable for all patients, including private space for LGBTQIA+ patients if needed.

Provide education on LGBTQIA+ health issues. Clinicians should ask patients what they know about their sexual orientation or gender identity, and provide education if needed.

Understand the importance of confidentiality. Clinics should provide privacy when needed and be mindful of not outing patients to friends or family if it’s not necessary for care.

Be an advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community. Clinicians should



Conclusion

Similar to other minorities, LGBTQIA+ patients may be more likely to experience health disparities. For example, LGBTQIA+ individuals may not disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity to their health care providers, which can lead to limited access to culturally competent and affirming care.

An inclusive and welcoming clinic will make a huge difference in the patient’s experience and willingness to seek medical treatment. Here, are some ways that clinicians can provide a positive experience for LGBTQIA+ patients.


1. Accept patients as they are


2. Ask about pronouns


3. Offer a variety of gender neutral bathrooms


4. Address the patient by their preferred name and honor their preferred gender pronoun


5. Remember that this might not be a patient’s first time coming out to a clinician


6. Let the patient ask as many questions as they want


7. Offer resources for LGBTQIA+ patients who need them


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