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Report: Most LGBTQ Adults Face Health-Care Discrimination

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A new report finds more research is needed to better understand stressors that impact the cardiovascular health of LGBTQ people. (Adobe stock)
A new report finds more research is needed to better understand stressors that impact the cardiovascular health of LGBTQ people. (Adobe stock)
November 30, 2020

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. -- More than half of LGBTQ adults experience some form of discrimination from a health care professional, including the use of harsh language, according to a new report.

The American Heart Association survey assessed cardiovascular health in LGBTQ adults and found 70% of people who identify as transgender also encounter bias in health care settings. Teri Arnold, director of communications at the Association, is a lesbian who says she faced intolerance from a nurse after she had a heart attack and her wife's visit made it clear she was gay.

"In a situation where you've just been through something horrific and you're confronted with someone that doesn't really want to be in the room with you, doesn't really want to treat you, it just creates more stress in a highly stressful situation to begin with," Arnold said.

Researchers recommend health care providers receive more education on how to provide appropriate care for LGBTQ patients. The study is the first-ever report specifically addressing LGBTQ heart health.

The report notes the LGBTQ population faces unique stressors such as family rejection and anxiety over hiding their sexual orientation, which could lead to higher rates of cardiovascular disease. But Arnold said many LGBTQ folks aren't comfortable disclosing their sexual orientation in a doctor's office.

"There has to be a safe space for LGBTQ adults to be able to reveal who they are and reveal their authentic selves within a medical setting," she said. "Because if I don't feel safe revealing that to you, then you can't collect the data, and then research can't be done."

Data also is lacking for LGBTQ people of color and for different socioeconomic backgrounds because most previous studies relied on samples from white, educated LGBTQ adults.

Disclosure: American Heart Association Mid Atlantic Affiliate contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Poverty Issues, Smoking Prevention. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Diane Bernard, Public News Service - VA