Throughout healthcare there are disparities amongst all different types of groups, some of which are based on race, poverty level, or sexual preference and gender identity. The LGBTQ community has been identified as the population of individuals having the most pronounced healthcare needs but with the largest health care disparity gap. Individuals identifying with this group face a lack of culturally humble and structurally competent providers, therefore increasing the difficulty in navigating their healthcare options and obtaining safe and high-quality health care services (Applegate, 2017). Healthcare providers are required to obtain the proper training and education in order to care for these individuals and be aware of common health issues they may experience. Regardless of this many healthcare providers continue to unjustly treat members of the LGBTQ community when seeking care, some of which put their own prejudices and beliefs into their clinical practice. Demographically individuals that are part of this community are less likely to have health insurance or come from high areas of poverty and experience negative health care outcomes for that alone. Individuals identifying as transgender are also at a disadvantage due to many preconceived notions generated about the transgender community. The LGBTQ community tends to participate in more high-risk behaviors in comparison with the rest of the population. Individuals experience higher rates of alcohol consumption, smoking, eating disorders, mental illness, and suicide; the women have higher rates of cardiovascular disease, polycystic ovary syndrome, and different types of reproductive cancers (Stewart & O’Reily, 2017). This community is also at an increased risk of violence such as elder abuse due to discrimination and a lack of acceptance. Most members of the LGBTQ community tend to be disconnected from family for the same reasons and are therefore left to fend for themselves regarding their medical care. Lack of support is a huge factor for these individuals which greatly compromises their compliance to care and willingness to even seek medical attention to start with.
Healthcare providers have the responsibility to create an all-inclusive environment and make these individuals feel safe, respected, and accepted when seeking medical care. Medical professionals must obtain the proper education, training, and resources to better care for these individuals and direct them to the appropriate channels to meet their health needs. Just as practitioners are obligated to educate themselves on cultural sensitivity, they must also learn about the LGBTQ community and how to respectfully provide high-quality healthcare to them. Care with these individuals should involve proper pronoun usage, addressing sexual orientation and gender identity, and making these patients feel they are in a safe space when seeking care.
Although health care disparity gaps will continue to exist throughout all different groups, it is crucial that health care providers continue to educate themselves and stay informed about such gaps and how to continue to minimize them in hopes of completely eliminating them. Providers must be able to acknowledge and accept their lifestyle in order to build a trusting provider patient relationship and be able to provide high-quality care and improve health outcomes.
Applegate, J. (2017). Cultural humility and lgbtq communities in the healthcare environment. Retrieved from https://ohiostate.pressbooks.pub/pubhhmp6615/chapter/issues-of-culture-diversity-inclusion-and-gender/
Stewart, K., & O’Reily, P. (2017). Exploring the attitudes, knowledge and beliefs of nurses and midwives of the healthcare needs of the LGBTQ population: An integrative review. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0260691717300771