Third of gay and bisexual men not out to their GP

A third (34%) of gay and bisexual men are not out to their GP or healthcare professionals, according to the world's largest Gay and Bisexual Men's Health Survey carried out by charity Stonewall.

Ben Summerskill: 'Respondents told us that they can't talk openly to GPs.'
Ben Summerskill: 'Respondents told us that they can't talk openly to GPs.'

The responses from 6,861 gay and bisexual men across Britain also found 12% were unsure what their GP’s policy is on confidentiality.

A total of 21% said that their GP surgery displayed a policy stating that they would not discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation, 9% said their GP surgery was a welcoming environment for gay and bisexual men by, for example, displaying posters that included same-sex couples or relevant health promotion materials.

The survey includes quotes from men who have had good GP experiences. Mark, 57, East Midlands: ‘My partner suffered a stroke and I was included in all aspects of treatment and consultations by our GP. Unfortunately, my partner died, but I still received good counselling from my GP.’

Terry, 42, Wales: ‘My GP surgery is considerate and acknowledges my sexuality and doesn’t see it as a problem.’

Oliver, 25, Yorkshire and the Humber: ‘I have openly discussed my sexuality with my GP in the past without any negative comments or issued raised. He was fantastic and very supportive of my health needs at that time.’

The report makes 10 recommendations which include: GP surgeries and hospitals should display non-discrimination policies that explicitly protect gay and bisexual people from discrimination; GP surgeries and hospitals should use posters, leaflets and information that include images of gay and bisexual men to help create a welcoming environment; doctors and healthcare workers should encourage disclosure by asking open questions and having clear confidentiality policies; and the DH should ensure sexual orientation is a field available on all confidential electronic patient record systems used by hospitals and GP surgeries.

Ben Summerskill, Stonewall chief executive, said: ‘Gay and bisexual men nationwide are more likely to attempt suicide, self-harm and have depression than their straight peers. They are also more likely to smoke, drink and take illegal drugs.

‘Respondents told us that they can’t talk openly to GPs and other healthcare workers and they are too often anxious that their confidentiality will not be protected.’ 

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