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Hastings Cent Rep. 2014 Sep;44 Suppl 4:S48-52. doi: 10.1002/hast.371.

Eliminating LGBTIQQ Health Disparities: The Associated Roles of Electronic Health Records and Institutional Culture.

Abstract

For all humans, sexual orientation and gender identity are essential elements of identity, informing how we plan and live our lives. The historic invisibility of sexual minorities in medicine has meant that these important aspects of their identities as patients have been ignored, with the result that these patients have been denied respect, culturally competent services, and proper treatment. Likely due to historic rejection and mistreatment, there is evidence of reluctance on the part of LGBT patients to disclose their sexual orientation (SO) or gender identity (GI) to their health care providers. There is some perception of risk in sharing SO and GI for many patients who have had bad prior experiences. Despite these risks, we argue that we can improve the quality of care provided this population only by encouraging them to self-identify and then using that information to improve quality of care. One strategy both to prompt patient self-identification and to store and use SO and GI data to improve care centers on the use of electronic health records. However, gathering SO and GI data in the EHR requires a workforce that knows both how to obtain and how to use that information. To develop these competencies, educational programs for health professionals must prepare students and educators to elicit and to use sexual orientation and gender identity information to improve care while simultaneously ensuring the safety of patients, trainees, and staff and faculty members as SO and GI become openly discussed and integral parts of ongoing medical discussion and care. As determination of SO and GI demographics becomes more common in health research, we will more fully understand the health risks for all the LGBTIQQ populations.

PMID:
25231788
DOI:
10.1002/hast.371

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