Lesbian and bisexual health care

C M Mathieson
Canadian Family Physician Médecin de Famille Canadien 1998, 44: 1634-40

OBJECTIVE: To explore lesbian and bisexual women's experiences with their family physicians to learn about barriers to care and about how physicians can provide supportive care.

DESIGN: Qualitative study that was part of a larger study of lesbian and bisexual women's health care.

SETTING: The province of Nova Scotia, both urban and rural counties.

PARTICIPANTS: Ninety-eight self-identified lesbian or bisexual women who volunteered through snowball sampling. Women were interviewed by lesbian, bisexual, or heterosexual female interviewers.

METHOD: Semistructured, audiotaped, face-to-face interviews, exploring questions about demographic information, sexual orientation, general health care patterns, preferences for health care providers, disclosure issues, health care information, access issues, and important health care services. Transcription of audiotapes of interviews was followed by content, thematic, and discourse analyses. Thematic analysis is reported in this paper.

MAIN OUTCOME FINDINGS: Three themes important for family physicians emerged: the importance of being gay positive, barriers to care, and strategies for providing appropriate care.

CONCLUSIONS: Family physicians are in a pivotal position to ensure supportive care for lesbian and bisexual women. Physicians need to recognize barriers to care and to use gay-positive strategies, paying attention to self-education, health history, and clinic environment.

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