Guide

Key health disparities to know for the LGBTQ+ community.

Inclusive Language Illustration

Key health disparities to know for the LGBTQ+ community.

Despite declining rates of cardiovascular disease mortality in the US overall, LGBTQ+ patients face significant disparities in cardiovascular health.

What you can do:
  • Encouraging adherence to preventative care measures and regular, follow up care.
  • Ensuring each patient understands what CDH is and co-creating a plan to address those risk factors.
  • Helping LGBTQ patients “understand their numbers” like cholesterol and blood pressure and empowering them to monitor this with you.

LGBTQ+ patients have higher rates of many cancers and those differ based on different subcommunities.

What you can do:
  • Ensuring screenings are done sensitively and in a trauma-informed way and creating a safe environment to discuss cancer prevention.
  • Checking if patients have had the HPV vaccine and, if they have not, educating and offering it to them. 
  • Acknowledging that patients may not know (or not be able to ask) about a family history of cancer.

Too many doctors only think about STIs when working with LGBTQ+ patients, which leads to clinical stereotyping.

What you can do:
  • Learning about the range of human sexual activity as a clinician is vital. 
  • Coaching on safer sex and being aware that phrases like “high risk” can be stigmatizing is a key part of delivering inclusive care. Educating on and prescribing PrEP in primary care clinical settings is strongly recommended, when clinically appropriate.
  • Asking about genders and genitals of sexual partners is a key part of being an inclusive clinician.

LGBTQ+ patients are twice as likely to be affected by anxiety or depressive disorders than the national average. 

What you can do:
  • Knowing LGBTQ+ affirming options for mental health services – both in-patient and out-patient – will help your patients. 
  • Building the trust needed to establish a therapeutic alliance and longitudinal care. 
  • Providing referrals for patients to receive other forms of affirming medical care and treatment as needed.

42% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth.

What you can do:
  • Affirming patient identity and providing a non-judgemental space for them to share about their experiences.
  • Knowing LGBTQ+ affirming options for youth mental health services and community spaces.
  • Helping LGBTQ+ youth navigate care without the support and resources of their family.

Many Transgender or Gender Non-Conforming (TGNC) patients will experience “gender dysphoria,” which refers to psychological distress that results from an incongruence between one’s sex assigned at birth and one’s gender identity.

What you can do:
  • Asking about and affirming the gender identity of all patients as a routine part of primary care is vital for delivering inclusive care.
  • Asking for and using correct pronouns and using the patient’s correct name, which may be different than their legal name, is a part of being inclusive. 
  • Discussing goals for gender affirmation is vital. Surgery is not a part of every transgender patient’s journey; but it should be discussed and advocated for when desired.

Things to consider.

01

Being aware of your own stereotypical thinking about gender is a key part of delivering inclusive healthcare.

02

Educating patients on how to ask questions within clinical settings is going to help with relationship building and communication, resulting in better care.

Question to think about:

Are you self-reflecting and imaging the health journeys of your LGBTQ+ patients?

Ask for pronouns
Ask how the patient is doing
Ask for consent before touching
All of the above