Lesbian health inequalities: a cultural minority issue for health professionals

Ruth P McNair
Med J Aust 2003; 178 (12): 643-645.


  • Health inequalities exist for lesbian and bisexual women, largely related to experiences of discrimination, homophobia and heterosexism. These issues can lead to avoidance of routine healthcare and screening and reduced disclosure of sexual orientation within consultations.

  • Lesbian and bisexual women have specific healthcare needs in areas of sexual and cervical health, reproductive health and parenting, mental health, substance use, and ageing.

  • Facilitation of disclosure of sexual orientation, identity and behaviour within the consultation is desired by most lesbians and important for addressing specific health needs.

  • Healthcare providers should develop "cultural competence" in lesbian issues to enhance their care of lesbian and bisexual women.

  • Healthcare providers have a role in promoting awareness of lesbian health issues and inequalities in the arenas of healthcare provider education, research and health policy.

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  • Ruth P McNair

  • Department of General Practice, University of Melbourne, Carlton, VIC.


Competing interests:

None identified.

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