What's Up in Family Medicine - June 2015

Creating a Safe Place for LGBTQ Patients

A recent study by the Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton (Ontario) found that over 40 per cent of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGTBQ) patients surveyed did not feel comfortable discussing their sexual orientation with their primary care provider. With approximately 15 per cent of the population of Ontario identifying as LGBTQ, family physicians play an important role in ensuring these patients have a safe place to receive patient-centred care.

“The LGBTQ population is marginalized and receives marginalized care. They often don’t access care for fear of phobia – including homo, bi and trans phobias – demonstrated by primary care providers”, says Dr. Robert Kerr, a family physician specializing in LGBTQ health in Hamilton, Ont.

“I’m often asked ‘What words should I be using?’” said Dr. Kerr who explains that the most common questions he receives from family physician colleagues are about language. “Most of the education [for primary care providers on LGBTQ care] starts with appropriate language use – it is our choice of words that sets the tone of the patient-physician relationship.”

Rainbow Health Ontario offers a CPD session, Introduction to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans Health for Clinical Providers, to help physicians with exactly that. The workshop lays the foundation for clinical providers working with LGBTQ patients. It also examines the social impacts of being part of a group that has historically been highly stigmatized and continues to encounter many barriers. This session is provided on request and more information about it and other training resources are available from Rainbow Health Ontario.

In March 2016 Rainbow Health Ontario will hold its next accredited bi-annual conference featuring educational sessions for health-care providers on LGBTQ health. The conference will be held in London, Ont. and more information is available on their website.

Links and Resources

The Hamilton Family Health Team has assembled a list of educational resources for primary care providers wanting to learn more about LGBT health care.