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October 16, 2017

Optimizing the Clinical Care of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Older Adults

Author Affiliations
  • 1Indiana University Center for Aging Research, Regenstrief Institute Inc, Indianapolis
  • 2Daniel F. Evans Center for Spiritual and Relgious Values in Healthcare, Indiana University Health, Indianapolis
  • 3Indiana University Division of General Medicine and Geriatrics, Indianapolis
JAMA Intern Med. Published online October 16, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.5324

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender older adults have specific health concerns that are often unmet by the medical system. There is growing awareness of these health needs, however, because people who recently reached 65 years or older are part of the first generation in which many have chosen to be open about their sexual orientation or gender identity. Although some health needs may be specifically related to gender identity or sexual orientation (such as hormone therapy for transgender persons), inequalities in health have also arisen from discriminatory treatment in health care systems and society, including clinicians who refuse to care for patients based on sexual orientation or gender identity or who are demeaning or disrespectful.1,2 Recent population-based studies have documented differences in psychological distress, mental health, and physical health for lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons, and transgender individuals are less likely to have health insurance and more likely to report poor health.3,4 To provide high-quality care, clinicians and health care organizations can welcome gay, bisexual, and transgender older adults, and appropriately address health concerns.1,5,6

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