Physicians don't ask, sometimes patients tell

Disclosure of sexual orientation among women with breast carcinoma

Authors

  • Ulrike Boehmer Ph.D.,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Health Services, School of Public Health, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts
    2. Center for Health Quality, Outcomes, and Economic Research (CHQOER), Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Hospital, Bedford, Massachusetts
    • Center for Health Quality, Outcomes, and Economic Research (CHQOER), Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Hospital, 200 Springs Road (152), Bedford, MA 01730
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    • Fax: (781) 687-3106

  • Patricia Case Sc.D.

    1. Department of Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
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Abstract

BACKGROUND

The disclosure of sexual orientation to physicians is uncertain and the reasons are poorly understood. The current study was undertaken to describe the disclosure of sexual orientation among sexual minority women with breast carcinoma.

METHODS

Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with a sample of 39 sexual minority women with a diagnosis of breast carcinoma who lived in New England. Transcribed interviews were analyzed using qualitative data analysis software. Through constant comparison methods, themes related to disclosure were identified from the narrative data.

RESULTS

Sexual minority patient-provider relationships were marked by apprehension, and providers did not inquire about sexual orientation. The majority of women actively disclosed their sexual orientation, whereas 11 women passively refused disclosure.

CONCLUSIONS

Providers should create opportunities for the disclosure of sexual orientation to provide more comprehensive care. Cancer 2004. © 2004 American Cancer Society.

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