- LGBTQ+ patients still experience discrimination and exclusion in healthcare.
- The University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing offers resources to help nurses support LGBTQ+ patients.
- These tools can help nursing school students and experienced nurses and have a continuing education credit option.
Despite the expansion of LGBTQ+ visibility and rights, nurses and other healthcare providers may still question how to promote inclusion and increase cultural competence with LGBTQ+ patients. Some providers may also lack the knowledge and understanding necessary to turn good intentions into true inclusion. For example, they may be uncertain about the changing vocabulary about LGBTQ+ identities, how to ask about pronouns, preferred ways of being addressed, or ways in which the health needs of LGBTQ+ people may be similar and different from the needs of straight, cisgender patients.
These questions may arise for nursing students and new and experienced nurses. In fact, fewer than 1 in 5 nursing students receive formal nursing school education on how to effectively provide care for LGBTQ+ patients, and one-third feel uncomfortable or unprepared to communicate effectively, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.
Experts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing saw this need and are addressing this gap with training and toolkits for both nursing school students and practicing nurses. For nurses, continuing education credit is also possible.
What Makes These Tools For LGBTQ+ Inclusion Unique?
The University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing’s toolbox for competent LGBTQ+ care includes several learning modules for nurses in different settings and experience levels, including:
- A module on LGBTQ+ inclusive nursing that offers continuing education credit
- A module without the continuing education credit
- A toolbox of resources about the LGBTQ+ community and healthcare
The modules include interactive presentations on LGBTQ+ demographics, definitions of terms and concepts, health disparities and social determinants of health, and issues facing the LGBTQ+ community when seeking healthcare. The modules then progress to education on creating a respectful and inclusive healthcare experience.
The content features information such as inclusive ways to ask particular questions about family life or health history and other best practices. The material is accessible to nursing school students as well as practicing nurses.
Unlike much of the available material on the LGBTQ+ community and creating an inclusive healthcare environment, this training focuses on nurses and nursing interactions. It notes some non-inclusive ways nurses have been taught to ask questions or present information to LGBTQ+ patients. For example, a nurse might have been taught to notice a discrepancy between legal names and other references to names as a potential error rather than as a potential difference between a preferred name and a birth name. The module shares alternatives for asking about these differences that are more accurate when considering LGBTQ+ individuals.
If you need clarification in the modules, you can send a message within the materials to the creators.
The toolbox includes links to evidence-based information on topics such as older LGBTQ+ adults and their healthcare needs, non-binary and transgender care, and trauma-informed care. The links typically include descriptions of the resources or summaries of the information.
LGBTQ+ Competency in Nursing: An Area of Need
Along with students, nursing school faculty also report a lack of the required knowledge and confidence in providing compassionate care to LGBTQ+ patients. Both undergraduate and graduate curricula show a significant lack of coverage of LGBTQ+ health topics.
Conscious and unconscious negative bias toward LGBTQ+ patients can have many harmful consequences, including poorer clinician-patient communications, misconceptions about patient adherence, and behavior that shows a lack of respect toward patients. Even without conscious bias, nurses can make mistakes that negatively affect the patient-nurse relationship, leading to worse health outcomes for LGBTQ+ patients.
LGBTQ+ patients may feel judged for their orientation, minimized, subjected to microaggressions, or otherwise treated with less than the respect and care that all patients deserve. Many LGBTQ+ individuals are already at greater health risks, such as a higher risk of cardiovascular disease generally attributed to higher stress levels.
Nurses wanting to provide an inclusive experience that addresses their patients’ psychosocial and physical needs can feel at a loss due to the lack of formal education in nursing school. Tools like these from the University of Pittsburgh can fill that gap and give LGBTQ+ patients more inclusive care and better health outcomes. These tools may even contribute to a better and more inclusive environment for nurses, faculty at nursing schools, and other stakeholders as more nursing students and nurses develop their LGBTQ+ cultural competence.
Page last reviewed on October 21, 2023