Finding a healthcare provider that you trust is a vital step in your health and wellbeing journey. Still, for most of us, feeling confident and heard when it comes to talking about our own health can be a pretty daunting task. And, this is especially true for those in the LGBTQIA2S+ community. In fact, data from the Center for American Progress (CAP) shows that LGBTQIA2S+ people frequently avoid accessing the healthcare they need due to fear of discrimination or even outright being denied service.
Below, we explore some of the most common barriers in accessing healthcare for the LGBTQIA2S+ community and what we can do to break those barriers down. Because everyone should feel comfortable, confident, and understood when caring for their own health.
Studies have shown that medical schools across the United States have not done an adequate job of preparing future doctors and healthcare providers to understand the health needs of the LGBTQIA2S+ community. This puts individuals at risk of feeling misunderstood or discriminated against during a doctor's visit and may even cause someone to avoid seeking care or disclosing information that may be required for appropriate treatment.
It is crucial to advocate for better education in medical schools and hospitals regarding LGBTQIA2S+ health in order to avoid bias. And although there is more work to be done, medical schools have begun to improve their curriculum to include more LGBTQIA2S+ focused content.
#2 Fear of discrimination or judgment
With the above point in mind, it is not surprising that fear of discrimination or judgment in a healthcare setting can cause LGBTQIA2S+ people to delay or even avoid seeking the care that they need. One survey conducted by CAP highlighted that discrimination played a role in preventing a significant number of LGBTQIA2S+ people from seeking the health care they need with 17% of respondents reportedly avoiding the doctor’s office to avoid discrimination.
We should all be able to attend the doctor's office without fear of being judged or discriminated against. Don't be afraid to look for a healthcare provider you feel comfortable with. Some people may prefer to attend specialized LGBTQIA2S+ health centers or if you would prefer, you can check in on your health from the comfort of home with LetsGetChecked’s range of at-home testing and virtual care options.
#3 Gender, race, or socioeconomic status
The LGBTQIA2S+ community consists of many distinct groups across a whole range of identities - and all experience different types of discrimination and stigmatization. One analysis conducted by Cornell’s Center for the Study of Inequality found that discrimination on the basis of intersecting identities can negatively impact LGBTQIA2S+ health and even “exacerbate the harms of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity”.
There are discussions ongoing worldwide to draw awareness to the importance of representation in healthcare. In health facilities and in every organization, it is crucial for diversity to prevail and to have groups of different sexual orientations, gender identities, and races involved and engaging to help shape an inclusive system.
#4 Lack of representation and/or inclusivity
There is research that suggests patients receive better care when they are treated by clinicians similar to them. This means that having a provider that doesn’t reflect the population it serves can sometimes result in a negative experience for patients. With only 4% of members of the American Medical Association, who choose to disclose the information, identifying as LGBTQIA2S+, this may ring true for the LGBTQIA2S+ community.
According to the American Society of Hematology, there are a number of medical schools across the US pushing to recruit more LGBTQIA2S+ students. In the fall of 2019, Harvard Medical School’s entering class of medical students was 15% LGBTQIA2S+ which they believe can be attributed to their push for LGBTQIA2S+ applicants.
At LetsGetChecked, we recognize these potential barriers to care and we strive to provide accessible health services and support, for everyone. With at-home testing, virtual care, and prescription delivery, we make it easy for you to have your health needs addressed by providing a confidential and comfortable healthcare experience.