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Study gives pointers on why patients are reluctant to disclose sexual orientation

Study gives pointers on why patients are reluctant to disclose sexual orientation

February 1 2018 A study has flagged up patients’ concerns about the need to disclose their...

  • Scotland sets out policy on improving workforce planning for primary care

    Scotland sets out policy on improving workforce planning for primary care

    Wednesday, 09 May 2018 16:12
  • DHSC to address concerns of prescription direction to distance selling pharmacies

    DHSC to address concerns of prescription direction to distance selling pharmacies

    Thursday, 19 April 2018 16:51
  • Study gives pointers on why patients are reluctant to disclose sexual orientation

    Study gives pointers on why patients are reluctant to disclose sexual orientation

    Thursday, 01 February 2018 11:35

a lgbt flag imageFebruary 1 2018

A study has flagged up patients’ concerns about the need to disclose their sexual orientation to healthcare professionals. 

A BJGP review of 31 studies identified four overarching themes which were considered to influence whether a patient would disclose their sexual orientation. These were:

  • the moment of disclosure,
  • the expected outcome of disclosure,
  • the healthcare professional,
  • the environment or setting of disclosure.

“The most prominent themes were the perceived relevance of sexual orientation to care, the communication skills and language used by healthcare professionals, and the fear of poor treatment or reaction to disclosure,” said the researchers.

However, they concluded that most of these factors were modifiable so could be targeted to improve healthcare professionals’ awareness of their patients’ sexual orientation. They called on healthcare professionals to consider the broad range of factors involved around disclosure “and the potential disadvantageous effects of non-disclosure on care.

“The environment in which patients are seen should be welcoming of different sexual orientations as well as ensuring that healthcare professionals’ communication skills, both verbal and non-verbal, are accepting and inclusive.”

Professor Kamila Hawthorne, RCGP Vice Chair, said patients should never be made to feel as though they have to disclose their sexual orientation to their GP, if they do not want to. “GPs are highly-trained to consider any physical, psychological and social factors potentially affecting their patients’ health, so it’s always helpful to know as much as possible about the patient in front of us when making a diagnosis and developing a treatment plan, and that includes sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Ultimately, we want all of our patients to feel comfortable accessing medical care from their GP practice when they need it – and if our LGBT patients feel inhibited to do this, as this research suggests many are, then we need to work out why, and take measures to address this.”

The RCGP has developed a range of e-learning courses with Public Health England on LGB issues in primary care. This has recently been updated this month and includes discussion of ways to make practices more accessible for patients.

“RCGP Northern Ireland has also issued specific guidance for members in NI on delivering care to LGB patients, and separate guidance for trans patients,” added Prof Hawthorne.

Links:
H Brooks et al. ‘Sexual orientation disclosure in health care: a systematic review’. Br J Gen Pract 29 January 2018; bjgp18X694841.            
RSCGP statement         
RCGP ‘LGB Issues in Primary Care’         

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