Patients more open about sexual orientation: survey
While the Trump administration recently removed the LGBT questions in the US census, a new survey noted that more people are willing to come out with their sexual orientation to their doctors.
This despite the fact that most doctors assume that their patients don’t want to talk about their sexual orientation.
Goal of the sexual orientation survey
The survey, published in the JAMA Internal Medicine, noted that people are willing to give information when asked with only one out of 10 people refusing.
“This is important information that patients feel is relevant to their health, and in most cases, they want and expect their health care providers to ask them about it,” said Dr. Adil Haider, surgeon and a director of the Center for Surgery and Public Health at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Dr. Haider, who is the study’s first author, said the goal of their research was to come up with a patient-centered method to ask patients their sexual orientation and gender identities.
Currently, the US Department of Health and Human Services and the Institute of Medicine have a recommendation of routine collection of information on sexual orientation. They are also seeking to include this information in electronic health records.
As such, the researchers of the study determined if patients were willing to give out their sexual orientation in the emergency department.
Method of the sexual orientation survey
For the survey, the researchers talked to 53 patients and 26 healthcare providers in the Washington, DC area.
They also ran a national survey with 804 heterosexual participants and 712 LGBT participants, as well as surveying 429 doctors and nurses working in emergency departments.
The result? Most people said during interviews that giving their sexual orientation is relevant to their treatment at the emergency department and that their healthcare providers need to know it.
Unfortunately, 78 percent of healthcare providers said asking for sexual orientation should be done only when medically relevant.
In particular, a nurse said it shouldn’t matter a patient’s sexual orientation if it’s a cold or a wound.
“They don’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable or weird. So they think patients are not going to want to answer this question,” ,” Dr. Haider told Reuters Health
“Meanwhile, the patients are saying ‘just ask us,’ but you need to ask everybody,” he added.
Meanwhile, study senior author Brandyn Lau said, “In order to identify and address health disparities among LGB populations, we must implement a standardized, patient-centered approach for routine collection of [sexual orientation] data on a broader, national scale.”
“These findings affirm the need for collection, are critical to informing how best to collect [sexual orientation] information, and may also be useful in the development of guidelines and policies at the provider level and beyond,” added Lauan, who is the assistant professor of surgery and health sciences informatics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.