Few "Out" Gay Teens Tell Their Doctor

Gay Couple
NEW YORK – Most lesbian, gay and bisexual teenagers who are “out” do not tell their doctor their sexual orientation, according to a survey by the RAND Corporation and the University of California, Los Angeles.
Among 131 lesbian, gay and bisexual teens aged 14 to 18 years attending the “Models of Pride Youth Conference,” 70 percent indicated that they were “out” to everyone or nearly everyone in their lives, yet only 35 percent reported that their doctor knew their sexual orientation.
“We knew that the sample that we chose was going to be a very ‘out’ sample,” Dr. Garth D. Meckler of Oregon Health and Sciences University in Portland said in statement. “We figured they would have a higher disclosure rate than most youth.”
Most of the teens surveyed (90 percent) had seen their doctor in the past 24 months and nearly two-thirds had seen their doctor within the past 12 months. Sixty-six percent indicated that it was important that their doctor know their sexual orientation in order to provide the best health care possible, according to the report in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
Reasons the teens gave for not disclosing their sexual orientation to their doctor included stigma; having a parent present in the exam room; fear that the doctor would tell a parent; embarrassment; and fear that their doctor would not approve.
Of those teens whose doctor knew their sexual orientation, only 21 percent said their doctor had brought up the topic.
“One of the strongest predictors of whether or not the teens disclosed their sexual orientation was whether the physician had discussed sex with them at all,” Meckler said. “Very few physicians were regularly discussing sexuality, even though sex is one of the major developmental challenges and health risks at that age.”
When asked what a doctor could do to make talking about being gay, lesbian or bisexual more comfortable, 64 percent said, “Just ask me.”
from Reuters Health

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