People who identify as LGBTIQ+ can experience assumptions, discomfort, some discrimination, and a lack of knowledge while attending physiotherapy: a survey

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Abstract

Questions: What are the experiences of people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer or related identities (LGBTIQ+) and attend physiotherapy? How could those experiences of physiotherapy be improved? Design: Primarily qualitative design using a purpose-built online survey. Participants: People aged 18 years or older, who self-identified as LGBTIQ+, and had attended physiotherapy in Australia. Methods: Open responses were analysed with thematic analysis and quantitative responses with descriptive statistics. Results: One hundred and fourteen participants responded to the survey, with 108 meeting all eligibility criteria. Four main themes were identified in the analysis, with almost all participants reporting experiences during physiotherapy interactions relating to at least one of the following themes: ‘assumptions’ about participants’ sexuality or gender identity; ‘proximity/exposure of bodies’, including discomfort about various aspects of physical proximity and/or touch and undressing and/or observing the body; ‘discrimination’, including reports of overt and implicit discrimination as well as a fear of discrimination; and ‘lack of knowledge about transgender-specific health issues’. Positive experiences were also evident across the first, third and fourth themes. Participants suggested or supported a number of ways to improve LGBTIQ+ experiences with physiotherapy, including: LGBTIQ+ diversity training for physiotherapists, education specific to the LGBTIQ+ population (particularly transgender health), and open options for gender provided on forms. Conclusion: People who identify as LGBTIQ+ can experience challenges when attending physiotherapy, including: erroneous assumptions by physiotherapists, discomfort, explicit and implicit discrimination, and a lack of knowledge specific to their health needs. Positive findings and participant-suggested changes offer ways to improve physiotherapy for LGBTIQ+ people across educational and clinical settings.

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APA

Ross, M. H., & Setchell, J. (2019). People who identify as LGBTIQ+ can experience assumptions, discomfort, some discrimination, and a lack of knowledge while attending physiotherapy: a survey. Journal of Physiotherapy, 65(2), 99–105. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jphys.2019.02.002

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