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J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2008 Mar;17(2):215-25. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2007.0083.

Healthcare preferences among lesbians: a focus group analysis.

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  • 1VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, Massachusetts 02130, USA.



The healthcare needs of lesbians are not well understood. We sought to characterize lesbians' experiences with, and preferences for, women's healthcare.


We conducted three age-stratified focus groups (18-29, 30-50, and >50 years) with a total of 22 participants using a semistructured interview guide to elicit lesbians' experiences and preferences. We analyzed transcripts of these audiotaped sessions using the constant comparative method of grounded theory. Community-dwelling women who self-identified as lesbian and responded to advertisements were selected on first-come basis.


Participants voiced experiences and preferences for healthcare that emerged into three themes: desired models of care, desired processes of care, and desired patient-provider relationship. Each theme was further developed into multiple subthemes. Within the subthemes we identified issues that were specific to lesbians and those that were general women's health issues. Participants preferred, but did not always receive, care that is comprehensive in scope, person centered, nondiscriminatory, and inclusive of them as lesbians.


Healthcare providers, institutions, and society should adopt an inviting, person-centered approach toward lesbians seeking healthcare, assure them access to healthcare information, and establish healthcare delivery systems that take all aspects of health into account.

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