Community, family, and other factors affect individual health. In the LGBT community, patients have a higher risk of suicide and substance abuse, as well as higher incidence of HIV in black MSMs and breast cancer / obesity among lesbians. In light of this, and the different contributing factors that may affect individual health, medical professionals need to be aware of how to approach these differences. The University of Missouri is trying to make sure their students are fully equipped with this knowledge.
"From my personal standpoint as a family physician, I am not able to optimally provide care to patients if I don't know them and about them as individuals, if I don't know the supportive people in their lives, the resources they have in their lives and if I don't know lifestyle issues that might impact their health care. Race, ethnicity and religion are some traditional ways of looking at diversity, but sexual orientation and gender identity are components of an individual's culture that really impacts their health." ~ Debra Howenstine, Assistant Professor of Family and Community Medicine (University of Missouri)
Students must be trained on how to identify and treat for different populations. The education of LGBT medicine has not been prominent in the past, but pushes are being made to change that. Physicians should be equipped to ask questions, learning more about their patient's overall health, and how to answer questions that may come up on their specific risk factors. By working together and supporting each patient's health needs, treatment outcomes can improve.