Healthcare professionals' assumptions as barriers to LGBTI healthcare

Cult Health Sex. 2020 Aug;22(8):954-970. doi: 10.1080/13691058.2019.1643499. Epub 2019 Aug 20.


Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people experience significant healthcare inequalities and barriers to healthcare services. Contextualised within six Member States of the European Union (EU), this paper discusses efforts to identify and explore the nature of barriers to healthcare as part of Health4LGBTI, a 2-year pilot project funded by the EU. Data were generated through focus groups and interviews with LGBTI people and healthcare professionals and analysed using thematic analysis. Findings reveal that barriers to healthcare are underpinned by two related assumptions held by healthcare professionals: first, the assumption that patients are heterosexual, cisgender and non-intersex by default; second, the assumption that LGBTI people do not experience significant problems (and therefore that their experience is mostly irrelevant to healthcare). On the other hand, it is notable that responding healthcare professionals were broadly 'LGBTI-friendly'. Thus, we argue that efforts to improve LGBTI healthcare should not be limited to engaging with healthcare professionals with negative views of LGBTI people. Rather, such efforts should also tackle these assumptions amongst LGBTI-friendly healthcare professionals.

Keywords: European Union; LGBTI; discrimination; health inequalities; health providers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • European Union
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Healthcare Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Pilot Projects
  • Sexual and Gender Minorities / psychology*