Maintaining best practices for all people to be inclusive of gender, orientation, sexuality and sexual health and be competent in treating all beings is critical.
Jennifer can help providers with this from the waiting room to assessment and language used with all populations. If patients do not feel you understand them, they will not be open with you. If you do not know what kind of sex your patient is having you cannot comprehensively care for their medical needs.
Here is what we know:
- Providers play an important role in educating entire families on sexual health, sexual orientation and gender identity and facilitating communication between adolescent patients and their parents.
- Only 14% of Americans aged 40-80 were asked by their physician about sexual difficulties in the past 3 years. (Pfizer GSAB, 2005)
- Adolescents list confidentiality concerns as the number one reason for delaying or forgoing medical care. During a visit, teens are more likely to disclose sensitive information if consent and confidentiality is explained to them and they have time alone with a provider. Providers should reclarify the laws and limits of confidentiality during each visit. (Adolescent Provider Toolkit C-7 © Adolescent Health Working Group, 2010)
- The most frequently reported sexual problems (vaginal dryness, erectile problems) may be amenable to physical treatment in medical practice, and yet few had sought or received help. However, many said that they would like to receive help. (Dunn, Kroft and Hackett, 1998)
- Studies reveal physicians do not initiate discussions of sexual health. Two main reasons are embarrassment and lack of knowledge about sexual function. Assessment of sexual health is as important as all other aspects of patient care, and should hold equal status with physical, spiritual, social and emotional care. Making your patient feel at ease talking about sexuality with you is the first step.
- Most medical students do not have formal opportunities to learn how to talk with their patients about sexual issues. (Barrett & Rand, 2009)
Medical Providers can learn how to:
Navigate their sex and sexuality discomfort
Improve their competence in talking about sexuality which will decrease discomfort with all orientations of patients
Develop a simple sexual health assessment which is critical to patient well-being
Ensure their waiting areas are inclusive and set the tone for openness about sexuality and sexual health for all genders and orientations
Speak in sexual health language and terms that are universal for all patients from adolescence to end of life.