Saturday, November 26, 2022

Play

An investigative probe into how rules written for distressed rust belt property may benefit a select few; Small Business Saturday highlights local Economies; FL nonprofit helps offset the high cost of insulin.

Play

A Supreme Court case could have broad implications for the future of U.S. elections, results show voters rejected election deniers in many statewide races, and the concession phone call may be a thing of the past.

Play

A water war in Southwest Utah has ranchers and Native tribes concerned, federal solar subsidies could help communities transition to renewable energy, and Starbucks workers attempt to unionize.

WV Research Uncovers Barriers Affecting Health of Rural LGBTQ People

Play

Monday, July 25, 2022   

By Yasmeen Saadi for The Daily Yonder.
Broadcast version by Nadia Ramlagan for West Virginia News Service for the Public News Service/Daily Yonder Collaboration


The history of medical treatment in the LGBTQ community is riddled with stigma and discrimination - from the view of homosexuality as an illness to the criminalization of same-sex intercourse.

While policies and discussions have helped improve these perceptions, according to recent research, there is much work left to be done to support the health of queer and trans people, especially in rural areas.

Zac Ramsey, a doctoral candidate at the West Virginia University (WVU) School of Public Health, set out to uncover some of the barriers in healthcare directly impacting rural LGBTQ individuals. He talked to five rural healthcare providers and five researchers who study the LGBTQ population and learned that health encompasses far more than physical well-being.

"These providers and these researchers were really talking about health as a holistic idea," Ramsey said. "Health as your physical, your mental and your social."

This broader definition that connects physical, mental and social health took into account factors like discrimination and heteronormativity that can impact a patient's relationship with healthcare. For example, assuming that a patient is cisgender or heterosexual, while that may not be the case, may lead doctors or healthcare providers to ask the wrong questions or give inaccurate advice.

"Go in without the assumptions and ask the questions, 'Are you seeing somebody,' not, 'Do you have a girlfriend? Do you have a boyfriend?'" Ramsey said. "Having that open language certainly opens the door."

Ramsey said asking open and inclusive questions allows individuals to believe that providers genuinely care about their health.

A specific challenge mentioned by two providers in the study was gaps in health insurance coverage for sexual and gender minorities. For example, many insurance companies do not understand prescribing testosterone to someone whose medical record is labeled female. Similarly, if all the markers are changed to male, insurance companies may not cover necessary procedures like a Pap smear.

Sensitivity training that makes physicians and providers more aware of their language and interactions with patients can lay a foundation to improve healthcare for the LGBTQ population.

"It just comes down to drilling into the individuals to not assume that they understand the patient just from a chart," Ramsey said.

A Social and Emotional Check Up

Beyond primary care, the last few years have been especially fraught, with the Covid-19 pandemic affecting not only physical, but social and emotional health as well.

Deputy director of the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center, Carrie Henning-Smith, conducted a study focused on individuals' systems of social and emotional support during the Covid-19 pandemic based on sexual orientation and rurality.

Research shows that being socially isolated or lonely is associated with higher risks of mortality, cognitive decline, hypertension, and a variety of other negative health outcomes. Therefore, social and emotional support are critical to ensuring an individual's ability to be healthy in the long-term.

Within her study, Henning-Smith used data from the 2020 National Health Interview Survey to compare the prevalence of social and emotional support between lesbian, gay and bisexual adults and heterosexual adults, in addition to comparing rural and urban populations. She found that rural lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults reported the lowest levels of having their social and emotional needs met and the greatest decrease in social and emotional support during the pandemic, with 23.5% saying they had less support than they had a year earlier.

"It's hard when you have a small population within a small population," Henning-Smith said. "It's hard to have adequate funding and adequate resources to make sure that you have funded programs and funded resources that you need."

Rural spaces have additional challenges, with fewer resources and fewer people who share the same lived experiences. With high-speed internet and public transportation harder to come by, rural residents are less able to travel and connect with those that might provide them the social and emotional connection they need.

To help increase support for the rural LGBTQ community, Henning-Smith suggested adding more welcoming spaces like community centers, parks or cafes that signal to people that they are safe and accessible. Further, she said anti-discrimination laws in every state need to be put in place to protect peoples' rights.

"There's a tendency to assume that rural places just don't understand LGBTQ issues or that if you're a member of the LGBTQ community you wouldn't want to live in rural places, and that's just absolutely false," Henning-Smith said.

"We know that LGBTQ folks live in every community across the country, so I think urban residents need to see and recognize their community and their peers in rural spaces."

Yasmeen Saadi wrote this article for The Daily Yonder.



get more stories like this via email
Nearly 1,000 Small Business Development Centers operate nationwide. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

Holiday shoppers this week have no shortage of options with Small Business Saturday being observed on Nov. 26. Sandwiched between Black Friday and …


Social Issues

By Lucia Walinchus for Eye on Ohio.Broadcast version by Nadia Ramlagan for Ohio News Connection Collaboration reporting for the Ohio Center for Invest…

Social Issues

While many Iowa families gather through this weekend to celebrate Thanksgiving in traditional ways with food and family, thousands of people take to …


The EPA claims that the EES Coke Battery plant has emitted thousands of tons of sulfur dioxide annually beyond its permitted limit of 2,100 tons. (Wikipedia)

Environment

Members of a Detroit-area community are intervening in an Environmental Protection Agency lawsuit against a DTE Energy subsidiary charged with dumping…

Health and Wellness

A bill headed to President Joe Biden's desk addresses a long-standing problem for domestic violence survivors, ending their ties to their abusers' …

The River Democracy Act would double the number of river miles currently protected as Wild and Scenic. (Jeffrey Schwartz/Adobe Stock)

Environment

Oregon is home to a plethora of rivers, but those waterways are not always accessible to every community. A new video series highlights how …

Environment

California is number one in the country for dollars spent on camping, hiking, climbing, and biking, according to the latest federal data. The most …

Social Issues

As holiday shopping kicks into high gear, security experts are offering tips for avoiding efforts by scammers to separate people from their hard-…

 

Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021