LGBTI patients in the emergency room would rather list their sexual orientation in writing, a new study shows.
The study found that sexual or gender minority (SGM) patients admitted to emergency rooms were two-and-a-half times more comfortable registering their orientation or gender identity on a form rather than in an interview with a doctor or nurse.
Research for the report comes from The Journal of the American Medical Association Network Open.
Adele Levine, a co-author of the study and researcher at the Center for Surgery and Public Health at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said the study showed the best way to collect data relating to sexual orientation or gender identity.
‘We should collect these data like we do other demographic information, such as race, age, and ethnicity,’ Levine said.
‘From a population health standpoint, collecting these data can help identify if there are disparities in care and direct efforts to address these inequities. On a patient level, it can create a dialogue between patients and clinicians and promote a welcoming, inclusive environment,’ Levine added.
Joanne Goodall, a nurse practitioner with the Gender and Sexual Development Program at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, said that the data can help healthcare staff identify and address concerns of specific patients.
Goodall cited a case where one of her colleagues was confused by the low lung function of a male patient. The doctor later found out that the patient had transitioned from female to male 20 years before, thereby explaining the lower lung function, Reuters reports.
Improving the way data is collected can also make seeking treatment easier for LGBTI patients who otherwise might avoid it.
A UK government survey found that high numbers of LGBTI people had encountered discrimination while seeking healthcare, with many experiencing inappropriate questioning from healthcare staff.
This, the study claimed, had become a barrier for many LGBTI patients seeking treatment.