Background: Recent studies have shown that these sexual and gender minorities often forgo care due to difficulties accessing health insurance coverage or fear of physician stigmatization. Therefore, using a nation-wide survey of providers and members of the LGBTQ+ community, we understand opinions on cancer screening since national guidelines have not been instated.
Method: An anonymous provider survey was created in Survey Monkey and sent to primary care providers and specialists such as oncologists, surgeons and radiologists. Questions (n=21) were designed to identify physicians understanding of issues faced by the LGBTQ+ community and also the provider and their clinics readiness to care for this population. In addition, a similar anonymous survey was designed in RedCap for members of the LGBTQ+ community (n=22) and posted on social media platforms such as Reddit, Facebook, and newsletters of national LGBTQ+ organizations. This survey focused each community member’s understanding of their medical needs and asked specifically about existing barriers to their cancer screening and prevention. Both surveys end with free response questions to allow respondents a way to vocalize areas for providers to improve patient care and experience.
Results: Among the physicians, only 47% of physicians were confident regarding the health concerns unique to the LGBTQ+ community and only 28.1% of them had formal LGBTQ+ competency training. Over 70% of physicians believe that providers and support staff would benefit from more training regarding creating an environment conducive to increased comfort and care for LGBTQ+ and potential unique health issues. Among the members of the LGBTQ+ community, 65.6% of the group was not sure which cancer screenings are needed and 71.6% did not know when to start their screening. Close to 80% are aware that each sub-group under the umbrella term LGBTQ+ have unique health concerns. Notably, when visiting a provider, 83.6% reported feeling nervous, 67.3% overwhelmed, 56% excessively worried, and 45.8% depressed or hopeless.
Conclusions: Although some physicians feel comfortable addressing cancer screening needs of patients within the LGBTQ+ community, the majority of physicians would welcome additional training to learn about specific patient needs. Moreover, patients often do not understand their own medical needs, and often do not feel comfortable seeing a provider. To remedy both provider and patient confusion, we recommend the creation of 1) national guidelines for cancer screening for the LGBTQ+ population and 2) resources for the education of physicians, support staff, and patients population to improve the cancer health outcomes of this vulnerable population.
Citation Format: Kevin Ko, Jerry Chen, Amy E. Leader, Marissa Ruggiero, Brittany A. Simone, Edith Mitchell, Nicole L. Simone. Discordant opinions about cancer screening for the LGBTQ+ community [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2019; 2019 Mar 29-Apr 3; Atlanta, GA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2019;79(13 Suppl):Abstract nr 2422.