A recent study suggests that while patients are open to being asked about their sexual orientation and gender identity in primary care, there is a need to set a stage for such questions so that they include a range of options.
According to the researchers involved in the study, understanding the social determinants of health, including gender identity and sexual orientation, is important for providing better health care as these are linked with subsequent outcomes. However, they also pointed out that many transgender and gender-diverse people have negative experiences in health care that affect their overall health.
During the study, researchers asked questions on sexual orientation and gender identity. They offered a survey to 15,221 patients. A total of 90 per cent of 14,247 respondents answered questions about sexual orientation and gender identity.
The researchers also interviewed 27 patients of diverse age, gender identity, education level, language and immigration status to fully understand their reactions to these questions.
As a part of this study, several themes emerged:
* Patients appreciated the variety of options on the surveys to indicate gender identity and sexual orientation
* Some LGBTQ2S (lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, two-spirited) patients were uncomfortable answering the questions, as they recalled previous negative experiences related to gender or sexual orientation. Some cisgender and heterosexual patients were also uncomfortable.
* Despite a variety of responses provided on the survey, some patients did not see their identities reflected and suggested additional terms to include in future surveys.
"Our findings can inform health care organisations that wish to characterise their patients through routine collection of sociodemographic data. Questions on gender identity and sexual orientation should include a range of flexible response options and definitions for clarity," said Andrew Pinto, lead author of the study.
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