Pediatricians' knowledge, perceptions, and attitudes towards providing health care for lesbian, gay, and bisexual adolescents

Suji M Lena, Tannis Wiebe, Sara Ingram, Mona Jabbour
Annals 2002, 35 (7): 406-10

BACKGROUND: Pediatricians are often the first health-care contacts for gay, lesbian, and bisexual adolescents who are developing their sexual orientation.

OBJECTIVE: This study investigated pediatricians' attitudes and practices towards gay, lesbian, and bisexual adolescents.

METHOD: We sent anonymous self-administered questionnaires to 112 pediatricians in the Ottawa area.

RESULTS: Of those who responded, 36 per cent reported having treated lesbian, gay, or bisexual patients, and 70 per cent reported not addressing the issue of sexual orientation. Reservations in discussing sexual orientation were due to fears of offending patients, and a lack of knowledge regarding their needs. Furthermore, 59 per cent of these pediatricians were unfamiliar with community resources for homosexual youths, and 78 per cent reported wanting more information with regards to the care of this population.

CONCLUSION: Many pediatricians experience difficulties in discussing issues of sexual orientation, and generally feel inadequately prepared to address issues pertaining to the health-care needs of these adolescents. While certain issues remain controversial, the overall attitude of pediatricians towards homosexually oriented patients is positive in that they are interested in becoming more aware of issues of homosexual orientation, to better serve this population.

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