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 Milestones

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

Beating cancer: MEPs react to the EU Plan for joint action

4 ways to build resilience to digital risks in the COVID-19 era

Colombia’s former president says COVID-19 shows the importance of listening to indigenous peoples on how we treat the planet

Internet milestone reached, as more than 50 per cent go online: UN telecoms agency

The EU Parliament slams Commission on economic governance

Ramp up nuclear power to beat climate change, says UN nuclear chief

The role of the cyber leader in building secure and resilient digital ecosystems

3 ways to keep ourselves cool more sustainably

Mirrored classroom display highlights scale of massive education crisis

Four lessons from Africa on building effective business ecosystems

Climate change will never be combatted by EU alone while some G20 countries keep procrastinating

Ocean life faces ‘onslaught of threats’ from human activity, but tools exist to save it

EU economy: Between recession and indiscernible growth

General Elections in Spain: Twitter organises the first digital debate to empower young people.

COVID-19 has laid bare the cracks in long-term care. Here’s how to fix them

From Policy to Reality: Discrepancies in Universal Health Care Systems across the European Union

As rural communities age, their public transport is shrinking. It’s time to fix this

Return of Kuwaiti property by Iraq, signals hope of ‘full normalization’ between nations: UN Chief

Busting the myths about coronavirus

This Indian school accepts plastic waste instead of fees

UNICEF backpacks used as a haunting symbol to call for greater protection of children living in conflict

How tiny countries top social and economic league tables (and win at football, too)

Banking Union: Non-performing loans in the EU continue to decline

Robots and chatbots can help alleviate the mental health epidemic

How we can embrace the electrical vehicle transition by adopting smart charging

Is mental health really ‘health’?

The ethics of the Medical Technology Civilisation era

The US + Britain trivialize mainland Europe, NATO and the EU

3 ways to nurture collaboration between universities and industry

The EU wants to create 10 million smart lampposts

Switzerland to introduce strict restrictions on executive pay

Far more needed to ‘confront the world’s climate emergency’, UN chief tells ASEAN Summit

Europe’s far-right launches attacks on neighboring nations

Syria: Urgent, concrete actions needed, to protect children too young to ‘make sense of this senseless war’

COVID-19 increased the use of AI. Here’s why it’s here to stay

The European Union and Central Asia: New opportunities for a stronger partnership

IMF launches a new offensive against Germany

Integrating migrants and refugees into the labour market: Commission and social and economic partners relaunch cooperation

Europe united in not supporting a US attack on Syria

What is the biggest benefit technology will have on ageing and longevity?

Economic recovery won’t tackle youth unemployment problem

How curiosity and globalization are driving a new approach to travel

At G20 Summit OECD’s Gurría says collective action vital to tackle global challenges

MWC 2016 Live: Industrial world prepares to reap digital benefits

Mergers: Commission opens in-depth investigation into proposed acquisition of Metallo by Aurubis

Why small farms are key to the future of food – and how we can support them

Nicaragua ‘crisis’ still cause for concern amid murder, torture allegations: Bachelet

One life for another

Access and hesitancy as major challenges surrounding covid-19 vaccination campaigns

Zero carbon by 2050 is possible. Here is what we need to do

The mother of all fights about inflation, growth and banks

Three UN workers killed following Benghazi car bomb attack, as Security Council meets in emergency session, honours their ‘ultimate sacrifice’

Coronavirus: Commission proposes to provide €81.4 billion in financial support for 15 Member States under SURE

EU humanitarian budget for 2020 to help people in over 80 countries

UN launches drive to highlight environmental cost of staying fashionable

“We need to accelerate our negotiation on the China-EU Investment Treaty”, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang highlights from the 21st EU-China summit in Brussels

COVID-19: How multilateral development banks can lead through a crisis

New UN book club helps children deal with global issues

Here’s how to find a job you really love

WHO launches COVID-19 health alert service with Facebook and WhatsApp – Updates from Friday’s WHO briefing

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