Nurses Can Lead Charge to Improve LGBT Health Care

Public acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people is increasing, yet competent health care has lagged behind.

Nurses can lead the charge for change, says Bobbie Berkowitz, PhD, dean of Columbia University School of Nursing.

To start, nurse researchers need to more closely examine the health issues that members of the LGBT community encounter at different stages of their lives, from adolescence through old age,

she said in an article on the Columbia Nursing website. Studies should also delve into social factors—crime victimization, housing, and family structure—that can impact well-being.

LGBT people face higher rates of depression and suicide, and low numbers of lesbians seek preventive care in general, says Walter Bockting, PhD, co-director of Columbia University Medical Center’s LGBT Health Initiative and professor of medical psychology in the School of Nursing and the Department of Psychiatry at the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

The need is tremendous. We need to know why and what can be done,

he said in an article on the Columbia University newsroom.

Drs. Berkowitz and Bockting helped draft a 2011 Institute of Medicine report on the health of LGBT people, Building a Foundation for a Better Understanding.