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The importance of sexual orientation in the medical consultation September 20, 2009

Posted by Geekgirl in Health, LGBT, medical.
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Another call from Israel regarding the importance of educating healthcare providers about LGBT issues.

The importance of sexual orientation in the medical consultation

[Article in Hebrew]
Harefuah. 2007 Aug;146(8):626-30, 644.

Dahan R, Feldman R, Hermoni D.

Department of Family Medicine, B Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Israel. mrdahan@netvision.net.il

Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) patients have unique and different health needs other then those of the heterosexual patient. Although a significant proportion of the population is gay or lesbian, physicians receive little formal training about homosexuality, and the unique health care needs of these patients are often ignored.

GLBT patients may have higher rates of depression, suicide attempts, alcoholism, and certain cancers, sexual transmitted and cardiovascular disease. One of the most significant medical risks of these populations is avoidance of routine health care and dissatisfaction due to fear of stigmatization by the medical community.

Youth GBLT patients are particularly vulnerable to internal and external pressures, resulting in higher rates of substance and alcohol abuse, suicide, and homelessness.

Declining health and loneliness may trouble older GBLT patients, who generally view themselves more positively. Physicians can improve the health care of GBLT patients and their families by maintaining a non-homophobic attitude toward these patients, distinguishing sexual behavior from sexual identity, communicating with gender-neutral terms, and maintaining awareness of how their own attitude affects clinical judgment.

Scant research exists with regard to the best ways to teach medical students about the special challenge GBLT patients face. However, the recommendation is to integrate such teaching throughout the entire medical school curriculum. This article includes a summary of the medical literature for the GBLT patients’ health care needs and suggests strategies for enhancing the care for this population, as well as incorporating it during the medical education.

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