A new study has revealed that bias from health providers is blocking gay men from receiving much needed medical assistance.
The study “Healthcare Usage and Satisfaction among Young Adult Gay Men in New York City,” which was published in the Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services, looked at the ways that young gay men perceive health care services. The study, which was led by researchers from New York University, the Rutgers School of Public Health, and the Fenway Institute, specifically examined young gay men’s interactions with health care providers and their satisfaction with services.
According to Futurity, the researchers surveyed 800 young gay men living in New York City. The research pool consisted of men aged between 18 and 29. All of the men reported their health care usage and satisfaction within three factors: facility type, coordination of health care, and satisfaction with care provided.
The survey’s results found that many young gay men typically avoid health care settings due to experiencing discrimination. They were then more likely to express dissatisfaction with health care overall.
That said, some who were comfortable discussing their sexual activity after disclosing their sexual orientation expressed a different perspective. These men stated that their healthcare needs were being adequately addressed. Researchers then stated that there’s a need for safe spaces that encourages disclosure of sexual orientation and builds trust between patients and providers.
“Oftentimes, once gay patients disclose their sexual orientation, providers do not know how to respond in a sensitive way and many patients leave the encounter less likely to disclose this information in future visits,” says Marybec Griffin, assistant professor at the Rutgers School of Public Health.
Griffin then added, “Even if the disclosure conversation is successful, many providers lack the knowledge of gay men’s health issues, which translates to inappropriate screening and prevention service, including the low levels of HPV vaccination and site-specific STI [sexually transmitted infection] testing.”
“As the use of nontraditional health care facilities like urgent care centers increases, it is important that providers in these settings are aware of the health care needs of gay men,” says Perry N. Halkitis, dean of the Rutgers School of Public Health. “Providers in these settings should be trained on proper screening protocols for gay men, including sensitivity around soliciting information on sexual orientation and behaviors.”