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1 in 5 healthcare practitioners uncomfortable treating LGBT patients

One in every five healthcare practitioners are not comfortable treating homosexual patients in comparison to non-homosexual patients. This is according to a study that looked at the effect on medical care provision of a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.

Because at times, care providers are the sources of anti-LGBT discrimination themselves.

One in every five healthcare practitioners are not comfortable treating homosexual patients in comparison to non-homosexual patients. This is according to a study that looked at the effect on medical care provision of a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.

In “Religion as a Factor When Treating Homosexual Patients: Results of a Large International Multi-Center Study” – which appeared in the October 2017 issue of the CHEST Journal – Ismael Garcia, Yamely Mendez, Salim Surani, Paul Marik and Joseph Varon, noted that “religion plays a major role in interpersonal characteristics of a population, culture and personal beliefs.”

So they sought “to determine if (SOGIE) could affect medical care. As homosexualism is becoming more prevalent, we hypothesized that health care providers with strong religious beliefs deemed homosexuality as an abnormal or unnatural behavior. The focus of the study was to attempt to correlate religious beliefs among healthcare providers and their effects on their medical approach to homosexual patients.”

For this study, an anonymous 30-question survey was sent out from July 2015 to February 2016 to health care providers in 174 different institutions around 40 different countries. Questions included topics regarding religion beliefs and approach towards homosexual patients.

A total of 10,106 surveys were completed. 53% (n=5,354) were physicians and nurses, 33.2% (n=3,351) were medical and nursing students, and 13.1% (n=1,328) were other healthcare providers (respiratory technicians, pharmacist, caregivers, et cetera).

The most prominent religion among these providers was Catholic/Christian 70.5% (n=7122) versus the Non-Catholic/Christian 27.3% (n=2762) [Islam 6% (n=611), Hinduism 4.4% (n=448), Protestant 3% (n=308), Jewish 1.4% (n=137), Jehovah’s Witness 1.3% (n=134), Buddhist 1.3% (n=128), Mormon 0.8% (n=83) and others 9% (n=913)].

When answering the question, “Do your beliefs about homosexuality affected the care you provide to a patient that is homosexual?”, 10.3% (n=284) of non-Christian health care providers would approach differently patients with different sexual preferences, based on their own beliefs about homosexuality, Jehovah’s Witnesses [22.4% (n=30)] and Hinduism [16.7% (n=75)] practitioners were the ones who were more likely to treat differently these patients, (p= 0.002). 20.4% (n=564) of non-Christian/Catholic health care providers did not feel prepared to provide care to homosexual patients.

Among the Christian/Catholic clinicians, 16.6% (n=1179) also displayed this vulnerability in treating patients with different (SOGIE). Of the non-Christian practitioners, Jewish were the ones less ready to treat homosexual patients [32.9% (n=45)], followed by Jehovah Witnesses [32.8% (n=44)], Buddhist 26.6% (n=34), Hinduism [26.1% (n=117)] and Islam [22.2% (n=136)].

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According to the researchers, “one in every five healthcare practitioners, regarding their religion beliefs, are not comfortable treating homosexual patients in comparison to non-homosexual patients. Jehovah’s Witnesses and Hinduism practitioners were more likely to treat homosexual patients differently based on their beliefs about homosexuality. In our study, the non-Christian or Catholic religion faiths displays more discomfort.”

The researchers hope that – despite religious beliefs – “healthcare providers must be committed to implement an equal and decent care to patients respecting their (SOGIE).”

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