Name: Jerry Carey
Paper Urges Physicians to Assess Practices for Care of LGBT Patients
STRATFORD, NJ - Noting that a patient's level of comfort and trust significantly impacts the type of medical care provided and received, a newly published paper outlines how physicians can examine how their own beliefs and practice habits affect their ability to treat lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) patients. The paper, which appears in the current issue of The Health Care Manager, outlines several minor but effective changes physicians can make to establish an office environment that is comfortable to all patients.
“LGBT patients can disproportionately experience social and behavioral risk factors that can affect health,” said lead author Dr. Joshua Coren, a family physician at the UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine. “When evaluating these risk factors, physicians need to ask questions nonjudgmentally to avoid causing their LGBT patients to feel scrutinized or even stigmatized.”
Among the authors’ recommendations are changing background information forms by expanding gender identification and relationship preference categories, noting that when only two options are available transgendered patients may struggle to identify their gender or bisexual patients may not be able to accurately describe their polyamorous relationship with men and women. Other recommendations include instructing clerical staff on the use of gender-neutral terminology, training clinical staff on surgical modification procedures, providing at least one unisex bathroom and making LGBT publications available in the waiting room. Physicians should also become knowledgeable about community-based resources, such as LGBT-specific cancer support groups or mental health practitioners.
“Discrimination and marginalization by society have historically made it difficult for LGBT patients to obtain a level of health care that meets their needs,” Coren noted. “Even with the best intentions in mind, a physician’s misstep or awkward interaction can cause LGBT patients to withhold information that would be essential to accurate diagnostic and treatment recommendations.”
To request an interview with Dr. Joshua Coren, please contact Jerry Carey, UMDNJ News Service, at (856) 566 6171 or (973) 972 3000.