Military Healthcare Providers and LGB Patients

Though it is estimated that approximately 2% of active duty military personnel identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual, there doesn’t exist much data on the healthcare needs of LGB servicemembers.

A study published in LGBT Health explores the attitudes and knowledge that military healthcare providers have about serving active duty (AD) LGB patients. Less than one-third of surveyed providers had received prior medical training on LGB topics, and only 5% reported that they “routinely obtain sexual history, including questions pertaining to same-sex sexual activity from AD service members.” The authors also measured provider comfort levels of treating LGB patients and found that junior providers reported significantly higher comfort levels than senior providers, a finding they attribute to recent efforts in medical education to provide cultural competency training or to junior providers having more personal relationships with LGB friends or family.

The authors suggest that the Military Health System must work to ensure better AD LGB healthcare, perhaps with education efforts similar to ones recently implemented for military healthcare for transgender patients. Even though the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 2011 allowed LGB soldiers to openly serve in the military, it seems that military providers do not yet know how to treat these LGB servicemembers. Because of this, the authors conclude that we must continue to work to “ensure that AD LGB patients do not remain invisible.”

You can access the full text of the study in LGBT Health here: http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/lgbt.2016.0210