Over the rainbow; healthcare for LGBTQ+ people

Over the rainbow;  healthcare for LGBTQ+ people
  • During Pride Month, it’s easy to find rainbow-colored health and wellness products.
  • But real health care that meets the needs of members of the LGBTQ community can be harder to come by.
  • A new study suggests that sexual and gender minorities may face unique barriers to health care, especially in rural areas.

During Pride Month, it’s easy to find health and wellness products with the colors of the rainbow, from bandages, mouthwashes and fitness trackers, in stores or online. But real health care that meets the needs of members of the LGBTQ community can be harder to come by.

A new qualitative study conducted by Zachary Ramsey, a doctoral candidate at the School of Public Health of the West Virginia University, suggests that sexual and gender minorities may face unique barriers to health care, especially in rural areas.

His findings appear in Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services .

“Research on sexual and gender minorities is growing rapidly, but mainly in large urban centers,” he said. “There are a lot of differences between urban and rural populations for the general population, so it stands to reason that there are a lot of differences between urban and rural LGBTQ people. Without further study of rural LGBTQ people specifically, these differences will not be known, and the Rural LGBTQ Center’s policies and programming can only use an urban population as a guide.”

Ramsey’s study is the first of its kind to explore researchers’ perspectives on the health needs of LGBTQ people

He interviewed five researchers who study the LGBTQ population. The researchers were professors from universities in California, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Texas.

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He also spoke with five doctors who practiced in the Appalachian regions of Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.

“Interviewing researchers and providers allows for an examination of the population with a much smaller sample size because each researcher and provider can talk to multiple LGBTQ people, whereas an LGBTQ person who is not a provider or researcher can only talk about their experience. as an individual. ,” he said.

Each The interview comprised open-ended questions about the priority health needs of sexual and gender minorities.

For example, Ramsey asked each participant what they thought were the most pressing health issues facing the LGBTQ community.

Four questions dominated the responses of the participants:

  • The interconnectedness of physical, mental and social health.
  • The damage caused by discrimination.
  • Heteronormativity or the belief that a heterosexual and cisgender identity is the only “normal” one.
  • Barriers in the health care system, such as insurance plans that do not cover necessary treatments and health care providers that have not been trained to handle LGBTQ concerns.

These issues may seem abstract, but their implications for LGBTQ people are anything but.

MENTAL HEALTH

One participant mentioned that if sexual minorities and gender they grow up in families that do not accept them, rejection can cause mental health problems that persist into adulthood.

Other participants mentioned that violence, and post-traumatic stress resulting, they can be a critical concern for LGBTQ people.

Others noted that sexual and gender minorities have higher rates of suicide and suicidal ideation and that medical school training often excludes the trans community from its curriculum.

And they noted that insurance companies could refuse to pay for treatments if, on the face of it, they don’t seem gender-appropriate.

Rurality can present its own difficulties. The participants pointed out that Neither LGBTQ social networks nor clinicians familiar with LGBTQ concerns are likely to proliferate in rural areas. The resulting isolation can sabotage the health of sexual and gender minorities.

“Bringing more providers to rural areas would be a huge benefit, not only for people who have to drive a few hours to see an endocrinologist for hormones, but also for the general population who can sometimes have a hard time finding services. adequate,” Ramsey said.

Additionally, trainings that prepare health care providers to speak with LGBTQ patients SHOULD BE A FACT NOW.

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