A descriptive study of the experiences of lesbian, gay and transgender parents accessing health services for their children

Authors

  • Rose Chapman,

    1. Authors:Rose Chapman, RN, PhD, MSc, Professor of Emergency Nursing, Australian Catholic University and Southern Health Victoria, Melbourne; Joan Wardrop, DPhil, Associate Professor of Anthropology and History, Curtin University, Perth; Phoenix Freeman, BA Anthropology, PhD Candidate, School of Archaeology and Anthropology, The Australian National University, Canberra; Tess Zappia, BN, Nurse Researcher, Cert Family and Community Health, Curtin University; Rochelle Watkins, BSc, PhD, Research Fellow, Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Centre for Child Health Research, The University of Western Australia; Linda Shields, MD, PhD, FRCNA, Professor of Paediatric and Child Health Nursing, Curtin University and Child and Adolescent Health Service, Perth and Medical School, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
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  • Joan Wardrop,

    1. Authors:Rose Chapman, RN, PhD, MSc, Professor of Emergency Nursing, Australian Catholic University and Southern Health Victoria, Melbourne; Joan Wardrop, DPhil, Associate Professor of Anthropology and History, Curtin University, Perth; Phoenix Freeman, BA Anthropology, PhD Candidate, School of Archaeology and Anthropology, The Australian National University, Canberra; Tess Zappia, BN, Nurse Researcher, Cert Family and Community Health, Curtin University; Rochelle Watkins, BSc, PhD, Research Fellow, Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Centre for Child Health Research, The University of Western Australia; Linda Shields, MD, PhD, FRCNA, Professor of Paediatric and Child Health Nursing, Curtin University and Child and Adolescent Health Service, Perth and Medical School, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
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  • Phoenix Freeman,

    1. Authors:Rose Chapman, RN, PhD, MSc, Professor of Emergency Nursing, Australian Catholic University and Southern Health Victoria, Melbourne; Joan Wardrop, DPhil, Associate Professor of Anthropology and History, Curtin University, Perth; Phoenix Freeman, BA Anthropology, PhD Candidate, School of Archaeology and Anthropology, The Australian National University, Canberra; Tess Zappia, BN, Nurse Researcher, Cert Family and Community Health, Curtin University; Rochelle Watkins, BSc, PhD, Research Fellow, Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Centre for Child Health Research, The University of Western Australia; Linda Shields, MD, PhD, FRCNA, Professor of Paediatric and Child Health Nursing, Curtin University and Child and Adolescent Health Service, Perth and Medical School, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
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  • Tess Zappia,

    1. Authors:Rose Chapman, RN, PhD, MSc, Professor of Emergency Nursing, Australian Catholic University and Southern Health Victoria, Melbourne; Joan Wardrop, DPhil, Associate Professor of Anthropology and History, Curtin University, Perth; Phoenix Freeman, BA Anthropology, PhD Candidate, School of Archaeology and Anthropology, The Australian National University, Canberra; Tess Zappia, BN, Nurse Researcher, Cert Family and Community Health, Curtin University; Rochelle Watkins, BSc, PhD, Research Fellow, Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Centre for Child Health Research, The University of Western Australia; Linda Shields, MD, PhD, FRCNA, Professor of Paediatric and Child Health Nursing, Curtin University and Child and Adolescent Health Service, Perth and Medical School, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
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  • Rochelle Watkins,

    1. Authors:Rose Chapman, RN, PhD, MSc, Professor of Emergency Nursing, Australian Catholic University and Southern Health Victoria, Melbourne; Joan Wardrop, DPhil, Associate Professor of Anthropology and History, Curtin University, Perth; Phoenix Freeman, BA Anthropology, PhD Candidate, School of Archaeology and Anthropology, The Australian National University, Canberra; Tess Zappia, BN, Nurse Researcher, Cert Family and Community Health, Curtin University; Rochelle Watkins, BSc, PhD, Research Fellow, Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Centre for Child Health Research, The University of Western Australia; Linda Shields, MD, PhD, FRCNA, Professor of Paediatric and Child Health Nursing, Curtin University and Child and Adolescent Health Service, Perth and Medical School, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
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  • Linda Shields

    1. Authors:Rose Chapman, RN, PhD, MSc, Professor of Emergency Nursing, Australian Catholic University and Southern Health Victoria, Melbourne; Joan Wardrop, DPhil, Associate Professor of Anthropology and History, Curtin University, Perth; Phoenix Freeman, BA Anthropology, PhD Candidate, School of Archaeology and Anthropology, The Australian National University, Canberra; Tess Zappia, BN, Nurse Researcher, Cert Family and Community Health, Curtin University; Rochelle Watkins, BSc, PhD, Research Fellow, Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Centre for Child Health Research, The University of Western Australia; Linda Shields, MD, PhD, FRCNA, Professor of Paediatric and Child Health Nursing, Curtin University and Child and Adolescent Health Service, Perth and Medical School, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
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Rose Chapman, Professor of Emergency Nursing, Australian Catholic University and Southern Health Victoria, School of Nursing and Midwifery, 115 Victoria Parade, Fitzroy, Melbourne, Victoria 3065, Australia. Telephone: +61 (03) 9953 3000.
E-mail:r.chapman@curtin.edu.au

Abstract

Aim.  To explore the experiences of lesbian, gay and transgender families accessing health care for their children.

Background.  Although lesbian, gay and transgender families are becoming more common, little is known about their health-seeking experiences. These families may be fearful about disclosing their sexual orientation or gender identity to health professionals. As a result, lesbian, gay and transgender parents may not be receiving optimal care for their children.

Design.  Descriptive qualitative study.

Method.  Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with 11 lesbian, gay and transgender parents in Australia.

Results.  Three themes were generated from the data: ‘managing health care experiences’, ‘attitudes’ and ‘transforming bureaucracies’. Negative experiences included encountering homophobia or transphobia and being required to educate health professionals. Positive experiences occurred when both parents were acknowledged as having an equal say in their child’s health care.

Conclusion.  Many health professionals lack the skill or knowledge to meet the needs of lesbian, gay and transgender families. Health services are required to ensure that all policies and procedures are inclusive of all family constellations and that staff receive relevant and up-to-date sensitivity training and create an environment that is respectful of all family groups.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Adopting a philosophy of family centred care can enable health providers and health professionals to provide lesbian, gay and transgender families with inclusive non-discriminatory care.

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