Do doctors need to know their patients’ sexual orientation and gender identity?

lgbti 2019

(Levi Saunders, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr Luis Torres, a Doctor of Medicine graduated from the Universidad de Oriente Núcleo Bolívar And Honorary member of the Universidad de Oriente Núcleo Bolívar Scientific Association of Medical Students (SOCIEM UDO BOLIVAR). He is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

Health professionals often assume that their patients are heterosexual, which can cause concern in the doctor-patient relationship. The assumption of heterosexuality, or heterosexism, not only makes patients feel uncomfortable, but can also lead a doctor to neglect certain aspects of medical care and to provide inappropriate counseling.

Research continues to suggest that there are significant health disparities between LGBTI people and the general population due to social stigma and discrimination to which they may be exposed. With this in mind, should doctors ask about patients’ sexual orientation? A new study of both patients and providers in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine looked at the feasibility of gathering such information in emergency departments. Nearly 80 percent of providers surveyed believed that patients would refuse to disclose their sexual orientation.

Doctors are concerned that asking a person’s sexual identity is too personal and not perceived as clinically relevant.

During the profesional medical training, a specific approach of the patients belonging to the LGTB collective is not studied. We have no news that it appears as a teaching objective of any subject-

In addition to the persistent social stigma, there are structural barriers that prevent access to health care for the LGBT community, such as that couples do not qualify for employer healthcare coverage.

Although in the first instance it might seem that your work consists solely of addressing the health problems of your patients, in reality your role goes much further, because if you really want to offer a quality service and establish long-term relationships you should know to fund other aspects that can help you understand issues that a medical review sometimes does not offer.

In the first instance, you must seek to generate trust with your patients, for which the empathy and humanization of your service is very important, so that they do not see you only as the person who will help them to be cured but as a companion who cares about aspects that go beyond physical health.

Sometimes what bothers the patient is the sex of the interviewer. In this case, it is also convenient to approach the situation in an empathic and assertive manner, respecting that you prefer to talk with another professional. It is important for medical professionals to understand these types of scenarios and avoid being offended or angry because the patient refuses to discuss these issues with them,  which is especially important when people of different race, culture and / or religion coincide.

It is necessary to understand that sexuality is part of the individual as a bio-psycho social being and it is essential that from the undergraduate level in the university, medical students are given tools in their study curriculum so that they know how to approach the LGBT community without any kind of cohersion. Ultimately, providing quality care.

About the author

Luis Torres is a Doctor of Medicine graduated from the Universidad de Oriente Núcleo Bolívar And Honorary member of the Universidad de Oriente Núcleo Bolívar Scientific Association of Medical Students (SOCIEM UDO BOLIVAR). He is Outgoing National Officer on Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights including HIV and AIDS (NORA)  of the Venezuelan Federation of Scientific Societies of Medical Students (FEVESOCEM) and member of the supervising council of the Venezuelan Federation of Scientific Societies of Medical Students (FEVESOCEM).







the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Parliament sets conditions on EU-China investment deal

The Bank of China at European Business Summit 2015

Four million Syrian children have only known war since birth: UNICEF

Appalling overall unemployment in Eurozone at 20.6%

Mental health and suicide prevention

4 key steps towards a circular economy

What my transgender child can teach us about the workforce of the future

Fake news and Freedom of Press: can the EU ever find the fine line?

Rise in Caribbean children displaced by storms shows climate crisis is a child rights issue: UNICEF

‘Being open about my mental health created a better work culture’

Who should pay for workers to be reskilled?

Brexit and migration dominates the debate on October’s EU summit

What the world will look like after the Iran and 5+1 deal; the US emerges as major power broker in Middle East

Banks launch green charter to help shipping reduce its carbon footprint

MWC 2016 Live: Roshan CEO opens up on Afghanistan challenges

Thai citizenship means ‘dream of a brighter future’ for cave rescue boys, says UN Refugee Agency

Mass measles vaccination campaign begins in Ebola-hit DR Congo province

Don’t compare data to oil – digitization needs a new mindset

The MWC14 Sting Special Edition

The DNA of the future retail CEO

Yemen: UN Envoy ‘guilty’ of optimistic hope that war is ‘nearing the end’

What’s really driving corporate climate action?

Europe to turn the Hamburg G20 Summit into a battlefield

ECB is about to lend trillions to banks

Alarming number of Ebola deaths in DRC a ‘rallying cry’ to scale up treatment

Germany: A grand coalition may trouble employers and bankers

UN boosts humanitarian appeal to help tackle Zimbabwe’s ‘worst-ever’ hunger crisis

In Bali, UN chief Guterres outlines importance of international financial cooperation for sustainable development

The umpteenth Italian overturn takes Renzi and PD to unprecedented victory at EU elections

This is what a Green New Deal for Europe could look like

Confirmed ‘Blue Line’ tunnels ‘do not appear’ to surface in Israel – UN peacekeeping chief

What do the economic woes of Turkey, Argentina and Indonesia have in common?

Syrians still living on ‘razor edge’ as UN launches $8.8 billion dollar appeal

Brexit: Ensuring a smooth transition for car producers and safety on the roads

Draghi joined Macron in telling Germany how Eurozone must be reformed

The EU resumes budget support assistance to the Republic of Moldova

UN migration agency launches $10 million appeal to support hurricane recovery in The Bahamas

EU Budget: InvestEU Programme to support jobs, growth and innovation in Europe

Sponsored content: when QUALITY meets OPEX in manufacturing

The green hydrogen revolution has started, and it won’t be stopped

“ASEM: Global Partners for Global Challenges”, a Sting Exclusive by China’s Ambassador to the EU

Negative inflation hits Eurozone, ECB to print and distribute one trillion euro earlier than expected

EU consumer rules: Airbnb cooperates with European Commission and EU consumer authorities improving the way it presents offers

Why this is the year we must take action on mental health

Air pollution, the ‘silent killer’ that claims seven million lives a year: rights council hears

Will Merkel ever steer the EU migration Titanic and restore her power in Germany?

Can Kiev make face to mounting economic problems and social unrest?

Greece bailout ends but with no substantial effect on citizens’ life

Sustainable development demands a broader vision, says new OECD Development Centre report

The big challenge of leadership and entrepreneurship in Europe

Gaza: deadly violence continues to escalate, top UN officials work to restore calm

Nicaragua must end ‘witch-hunt’ against dissenting voices – UN human rights experts

China-EU Special Report: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang endorses China’s big investment on Juncker’s plan at 10th China-EU Business Summit

This afternoon Britain will be once more isolated from mainland Europe

‘Comprehensively include migrants’ or sustainable development won’t happen, warns General Assembly President

EU members commit to build an integrated gas market and finally cut dependency on Russia

The AI doctor won’t see you now

Containers at the port of Tokyo. (Copyright: European Union, 2016. Source: EC - Audiovisual Service. Photo: Haruyoshi Yamaguchi)

EU cuts fast-track free trade deals with Japan and Singapore and leads the trade scene

GSMA Announces Latest Event Updates for 2018 “Mobile World Congress Americas, in Partnership with CTIA”

UN agriculture chief urges ‘transformative changes’ to how we eat

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s