Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013
News for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Physicians
Disclosing sexual orientation to doctors linked to mental well-being
Whether lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) adults choose to disclose their sexual orientation to their health care provider can impact the patients' well-being, finds a recent study published in the journal Sexuality Research and Social Policy.
The study participants included 396 self-identified LGB individuals between the ages of 18 and 59 from diverse communities within New York City. Researchers conducted an initial interview with participants and a follow-up session one year later.
They found that the rate of nondisclosure to health care providers was significantly higher among bisexual men and women compared with gay men and lesbians. Factors such as age, level of education, immigration status, medical history, level of internalized homophobia and degree of connectedness to the LGBT community all significantly contributed to the patients' choices to disclose their sexual orientation to their health care providers.
Researchers also discovered that nondisclosure of sexual orientation was related to poorer psychological well-being at the one-year follow-up.
This research highlights the need for physicians to create practice environments where their patients feel comfortable disclosing all important health information. The AMA provides resources to help physicians create an LGBT-friendly practice.
Legal unions can boost mental health for gay peoples
As the debate over same-sex marriage heats up in the courts, a new study has found an association between legally recognized relationships and decreased feelings of nervousness, hopelessness and depression.
The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, used data from the 2009 California Health Interview Survey, which included more than 47,000 participants aged 70 years and younger. The respondents were asked about their sexual identification, whether they were legally registered as a domestic partner or spouse in California with someone of the same sex, and regarding their psychological well-being.
Study author Richard Wight notes that to reap the psychological benefits of a legally-recognized relationship, marriage doesn't seem to be necessary.
"Same-sex marriage is a somewhat better predictor of psychological health, but there is not statistical difference between those who are married and those who are in registered domestic partnerships," Wight explained. "For heterosexual couples, the rationale for marriage is broadly more economic resources, acknowledgement of relationship and integration into the community. For same-sex couples, it's all that, plus it's reducing the stigmatization."