According to a new report, half of cancer doctors in the United States are unprepared to adress and treat the specific needs of their LGBTI patients.
The report was published by several authors in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
As it explains, the purpose of the report is to ‘identify potential gaps in attitudes, knowledge, and institutional practices toward LGBTQ patients’.
In order to complete their survey and find results, the authors took a random sample of 450 oncologists from 45 cancer centers from the American Medical Association’s Physician Masterfile.
Findings of the report
Promsingly, a majority of the oncologists affirmed the importance of knowing their patients’ identities and receiving LGBTQ education.
Regarding identities, more believe it’s important to know a patient’s gender identity (65.8%) compared to sexual orientation (39.6%). A large majority (70.4%) expressed interest in receiving education specifically about LGBTQ patients.
Following the survey, however, confidence dropped among oncologists about their own knowledge.
53.1% said they were confident about LGB health needs and information before taking the survey. That number dropped to 38.9% after the survey.
The numbers were even lower about transgender knowledge (from 36.9% to 19.5%).
A promising fact is that a majority of these doctors (83%) feel comfortable treating trans patients, but only 37% felt like they know enough to actually do so.
How to address this
‘With this research, we’re really interested in looking at how discrimination affects not only patient health but also how can we intervene at the provider level to have an impact on quality of care,’ one of the author’s, Megan Sutter, told CBS News.
Another author of the study, Gwendolyn Quinn, revealed some of the questions they asked the oncologists.
They asked the doctors if they knew the LGBTQ community is more likely to spend time in the sun, use tobacco, and have substance abuse. They also inquired if women who have never had sex with a man are still at risk for HPV.
‘The answer to these questions is that they’re true, but many of the doctors in the survey didn’t think that,’ Quinn said.
She continued: ‘It’s not a patient issue. We should not expect people who identify as LGBTQ to train us about what their needs are. It is our obligation as institutions and providers of care to figure out how we can best serve them.’