Keywords: LGBTQ health, patient centered medicine, social network
Multiple surveys and research reveal that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) individuals face barriers in obtaining quality healthcare, leading them to delay or avoid seeking medical help. Healthcare providers even with good intentions, may unknowingly express bias or engage in discriminatory behavior due to limited understanding of LGBTQ health issues and inadequate training in patient communication. These challenges hinder optimal healthcare for the LGBTQ community.
In February 2022, we established a Facebook group designed for individuals of all ages, genders, and sexual orientations. The group's purpose is to facilitate the exchange of anonymous or non-anonymous questions between members, with responses provided by LGBT health professionals, primarily family doctors but also including dermatologists, surgeons, psychologists, and others. At present, the community consists of 6,000 members. To assess the impact of this Facebook community, a preliminary audit survey was conducted within the group to determine if the group yielded additional insights regarding preventive medicine.
Out of the respondents (N=78), 42% reported that the information they obtained from the group proved highly beneficial when seeking medical services. Additionally, 60% mentioned that the community contributed to boosting their self-esteem when interacting with healthcare providers and accessing medical services. Additionally, 65% stated that the community greatly aided them in navigating medical dilemmas. Furthermore, a significant 82% indicated that the community played a crucial role in disseminating knowledge about preventive care.
Utilizing social networks can serve as a valuable, easily accessible platform for medical education, benefiting both patients and healthcare providers. It offers patients the opportunity to ask personal and potentially uncomfortable questions while receiving professional, non-judgmental responses. Moreover, it provides other users with vital information and a sense of solidarity in their medical challenges and difficulties.
Points for discussion:
LGBTQ health barriers
Using social media as platform for professional medical education both for patients and physicians
Patient centered medicine – from idea to reality