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LGBTQ people twice as likely to experience discrimination in health care

LGBT adults are twice as likely to report negative experiences while receiving health care in the last three years. This included being treated unfairly or with disrespect (33% vs 15%) or having at least one of several other negative experiences with a provider (61% vs 31%).

At least in the US, a survey conducted by KFF found that LGBTQIA people are twice as likely to experience discrimination in their health care.

The survey – “LGBT Adults’ Experiences with Discrimination and Health Care Disparities: Findings from the KFF Survey of Racism, Discrimination, and Health” by Alex Montero, Liz Hamel, Samantha Artiga, and Lindsey Dawson – sampled 5,073 adults reached through an address-based sample and completed the survey online (4,529) or over the phone (544). An additional 1,219 adults were reached through a random digit dial telephone sample of prepaid cell phone numbers.

Major findings of the survey include:

  • 65% of LGBT adults compared to 40% of non-LGBT adults experienced at least one form of discrimination in their daily life at least a few times in the past year. This included receiving poorer service at restaurants or stores, people acting as if afraid of them or as if they are not smart, being threatened or harassed, or criticized for speaking a language other than English.
  • LGBT adults are twice as likely to report negative experiences while receiving health care in the last three years. This included being treated unfairly or with disrespect (33% vs 15%) or having at least one of several other negative experiences with a provider (61% vs 31%).
  • More LGBT adults had negative health care experiencse in the past three years that caused their health to get worse (24% vs 9%), made them less likely to seek health care (39% vs 15%), or caused them to switch health care providers (36% vs 16%).
  • Six in ten LGBT adults prepare for insults from health care providers or staff or feel that they need to be careful about their appearance to be treated fairly, compared to four in ten (39%) non-LGBT adults who say the same.
  • Those who are lower income, younger, and women are more likely to face challenges with discrimination or unfair treatment.
  • LGBT adults are twice as likely to say they or a family member has ever experienced a severe mental health crisis that resulted in serious consequences like homelessness, hospitalization, incarceration, self-harm, or suicide (44% vs 19%).
  • Over half of younger and lower-income LGBT adults report they or a family member experienced a severe mental health crisis. Particularly, LGBT adults who experienced discrimination in their daily lives at least a few times in the past year are about twice as likely as those who rarely or never experienced such discrimination to say they always or often felt anxious (65% v. 34%), lonely (42% v. 15%), or depressed (38% vs. 21%) in the past year.

According to the survey, having a strong local support network is a mitigating factor for experiences with severe mental health crises and regular feelings of loneliness and depression.

The survey’s findings are said to underscore and enhance understanding of the ongoing challenges LGBT adults face, including with respect to experiences with stigma and discrimination and poorer mental health outcomes compared to non-LGBT peers. Both, stressed the researchers, are likely intertwined.

The KFF survey was conducted from June 6 to August 14, 2023.

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