Pain Physicians are ill-equipped to manage LGBTQ Patients’ Pain Issues

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) patients often report health care as inhospitable communities where they feel judged, stigmatized, ashamed, or mistreated. However, physician education and training about LGBTQ medical needs are much needed to improve their attitudes and skills in treating LGBTQ patients and increase patients’ satisfaction with their medical care, according to the results of a recent survey of pain physicians caring for LGBTQ patients.

Mira Narouze, MA, PsyS, Amy Przeworski, PhD, Sameh Hakim, MD, PhD, and Samer Narouze, MD, PhD, will present their study, “Perceived Competency, Attitudes, and Training in Treating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Patients Among American Pain Physicians,” on Saturday, November 17, 2018, during the 17th Annual Pain Medicine Meeting in San Antonio, TX.

To better understand the impact of pain physicians’ current attitudes, beliefs, and medical training regarding LGBTQ patients; physicians’ knowledge of the experience and health care needs of LGBTQ patients; and the need for LGBTQ-specific medical education for pain physicians, Narouze et al. evaluated survey responses from 238 pain physicians. They found that most physicians received little training that focused on pain issues in LGBTQ patients, yet the physicians rated their perceived competency highly in that area. Older physicians and those who had been out of medical school longer had less awareness of the LGBTQ patient experience than younger, newer graduates.

Of note, 15.3% of the pain physicians identified as LGBTQ themselves. Those physicians reported more awareness of negative health care experiences for LGBTQ patients and were less biased toward LGBTQ patients than pain physicians who identified as heterosexual. 

Narouze et al. concluded that pain physicians underestimate the level of LGBTQ patients’ negative experiences in health care, possibly because they are unaware of microaggression against those patients. “The results underscore the importance of instituting integrated education regarding LGBTQ medical needs to address the gap in pain physicians’ attitudes and skills and the negative experiences of LGBTQ patients in health care spaces,” they wrote.

The 17th Annual Pain Medicine Meeting will be held November 15–17, 2018, at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort in Texas. The meeting brings together a world-renowned expert faculty to share their practical experience in pain medicine; discuss novel, emerging, and standard therapies; and address challenges such as the opioid crisis and financial toxicity.

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17th Annual Pain Medicine Meeting