Uplifting LGBTQ Asian American Narratives

As part of the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center’s (CBWCHC) Project AHEAD program, interns design and implement a community health project (CHP) on a health issue of their choosing.  The 2017 Project AHEAD cohort focused their CHP on the intersection of mental health, gender, and sexuality as these topics are understudied – particularly for Asian Americans who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ).

A convenience sample community health survey was administered to individuals who identified as Asian American, 18 years or older, and lived or worked in New York City. Findings showed substantial differences in comfort levels of Non-LGBTQ and LGBTQ respondents when discussing mental health, gender identity, and sexual orientation with their primary care provider (PCP).

bar graph comparing LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ's comfort level in discussing mental health

bar graph comparing LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ's comfort level in discussing gender identity

bar graph comparing LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ's comfort level in discussing sexual orientation

A higher proportion of LGBTQ respondents than non-LGBTQ respondents reported feeling uncomfortable or very uncomfortable when speaking with their PCP’s about: mental health (31.6% vs. 7.7%); gender identity (24.6% vs. 3.9%); and sexual orientation (21.8% vs. 3.4%). Qualitative survey data attributed LGBTQ respondents’ discomfort to providers’ lack of knowledge on LGBTQ health needs and low sensitivity toward LGBTQ identities. Stigma and fear of discrimination were cited as barriers for LGBTQ individuals seeking health care.

CBWCHC is continuously striving to improve patient care. In addition to ongoing LGBTQ-sensitivity training for staff and regular collection of sexual orientation and gender identity information from all patients, the Health Center has hosted multiple learning events to ensure staff and providers are informed of LGBTQ health needs. Activities have included a Lunch and Learn LGBTQ Asian American Health Panel and a Grand Rounds featuring LGBTQ health care specialist, Dr. Peter Meacher of Callen-Lorde Community Health Center.

This research project was conducted by Michelle Chen, Joshua Ng, Maggie Wong, Kristina Hwang, Emily Chan, Weijing Gu, Vivian Wong, and Hannah Wu. Their research project, “Patient Perspectives on Mental Health, Gender, and Sexuality in Primary Care: Uplifting LGBTQ Asian American Narratives” was presented at the 2017 CAMS Annual Scientific Conference as a poster presentation.

Written by Matthew Chin


Posted by Charles B. Wang Community Health Center

The Charles B. Wang Community Health Center is a nonprofit and federally qualified health center, established in 1971. Our mission is to provide high quality and affordable health care to the undeserved, with a focus on Asian Americans. Our vision is to ensure that everyone has full and equal access to the highest level of health care. Learn more at www.cbwchc.org.

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