It has been demonstrated that health disparities between lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer (LGBQ) populations and the general population can be improved by disclosure of sexual identity to a health care provider (HCP). However, heteronormative assumptions (that is, assumptions based on a heterosexual identity and experience) may negatively affect communication between patients and HCPs more than has been recognized. The aim of this study was to understand LGBQ patients’ perceptions of their experiences related to disclosure of sexual identity to their primary care provider (PCP).
One-on-one semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted, audio-recorded, and transcribed. Participants were self-identified LGBQ adults with experiences of health care by PCPs within the previous five years recruited in Toronto, Canada. A qualitative descriptive analysis was performed using iterative coding and comparing and grouping data into themes.
Findings revealed that disclosure of sexual identity to PCPs was related to three main themes: 1) disclosure of sexual identity by LGBQ patients to a PCP was seen to be as challenging as coming out to others; 2) a solid therapeutic relationship can mitigate the difficulty in disclosure of sexual identity; and, 3) purposeful recognition by PCPs of their personal heteronormative value system is key to establishing a strong therapeutic relationship.
Improving physicians’ recognition of their own heteronormative value system and addressing structural heterosexual hegemony will help to make health care settings more inclusive. This will allow LGBQ patients to feel better understood, willing to disclose, subsequently improving their care and health outcomes.
Full article at: http://goo.gl/s3JWfn
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