Why do we need PT Proud?
Updated: Sep 24, 2019
PT Proud is an LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual) Catalyst group within the HPA. Our mission is to unite PTs, PTAs, and students towards a common goal of affecting change in the profession of physical therapy through advocacy, policy, and promotion of competency education. We aim to address health disparities and positively affect the healthcare experience of LGBTQIA+ patients, students, and clinicians.
The need to improve patient care is highly apparent. In Lambda Legal’s 2011 survey of LGBT people and people with HIV, “When Healthcare Isn’t Caring,” over 50% of LGB study participants reported having experienced; being refused care, having their healthcare provider refuse to touch them, excessive use of precautions when being treated, being blamed for their health status or their healthcare provider verbally abuse them. Transgender people reported having experienced discrimination and barriers to accessing healthcare at as much as two to three times the rate experienced by lesbian, gay, or bisexual people. LGBT people of color and low income people were also more likely to report facing discriminatory or substandard care.
The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, the largest survey examining the experience of transgender individuals in the U.S, found that 33% of respondents who saw a health care provider in the past year reported having at least one negative experience related to being transgender. These included being denied care, being harassed or assaulted, or having to teach their provider about transgender people in order to get appropriate care. Twenty-three percent of respondents did not seek needed medical care in the past year because they feared being mistreated as a transgender person, and 33% did not seek care due to financial barriers.
In alignment with the reports of LGBTQIA+ patients, many physical therapists may not demonstrate respect for LGBTQIA+ patients, or knowledge of their healthcare needs. In Burch’s 2018 study surveying 402 diverse healthcare providers who work with patients with SCI, 85% of both PT’s and PTA’s reported attitudes of tolerance versus respect towards patients who are LGBT. Only 1% of the 176 PT’s surveyed had “full respect” for patients who are a part of this community. By contrast, 40% of nurses reported having “some respect” and 44% reported having “full respect” for patients who identify as LGBT. Our profession could stand to catch up to nursing in this regard. In addition, 68% of healthcare providers reported “very low to average knowledge” when it came to treating patients with SCI who are LGBT. It is also noteworthy to mention that these providers were treating a patient population that often experiences changes in sexual function, where knowledge of patients’ sexual practices may be required to provide effective patient care.
As physical therapy professionals, how can we, as practitioners, be a safe resource for this community? What role can we play in addressing these disparities?PT Proud formed to help our profession address these questions! You can get involved by following us on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PTProud and by contacting Karla A. Bell at email@example.com.