School of Medicine sponsors discussion on LGBT health disparities

Members of the LGBT community face health disparities linked to societal stigma, discrimination and lack of medical provider education, Susan Wilson, Ph.D., associate dean for diversity and community partnerships, explained during a panel discussion on March 26 at the School of Medicine. Those disparities, she said, lead to poor health outcomes overall, high rates of psychiatric disorders, substance abuse and suicide.

The School of Medicine sponsored the discussion on LGBT health disparities and their implications for medical education.

Bob Batterson, M.D., ’87, associate professor of pediatrics, Ryan McDonohough, D.O., a third-year pediatric resident at Children’s Mercy Hospital, and Angela Cottrell, UMKC director of student involvement, served as the three panelist for the hour-long discussion.

Batterson said surveys showed that 29 percent those in the lesbian and gay community believed health care professionals would treat them differently if they came out and 8 percent said they have been denied health care after opening stating their sexual orientation. He said those numbers grew among people in the transgender community to 73 percent who felt they would be treated differently and 27 percent who said they had been denied health care.

A growing number of health care organizations across the country are participating with the Human Rights Campaign in surveys that focus on policies and guidelines for patient non-discrimination, visitation, and employment non-discrimination.

“The goal is that LGBT patients who are patients of ours will be treated with the greatest dignity possible,” Batterson said.

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