OutCare Health

Why the Program Matters

There is a significant lack of healthcare access and coverage and culturally competent providers for LGBTQ communities. This insufficient care is not only compounded but driven by social marginalization and discrimination. LGBTQ persons experience poorer quality of life due to higher rates of HIV/STIs, obesity, disabilities, cancer, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and suicidality1.

Such social and medical inequality pervades the Midwest’s LGBTQ communities2. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) reports that only a few Indiana facilities consistently meet HRC criteria for LGBTQ patient-centered care3. Of particular concern, Indiana LGBTQ youth are very likely to be physically assaulted (61%), verbally abused (88%), depressed (86%), attempt suicide (52%), smoke tobacco (62%), and consume alcohol (98%). An alarming number are also not ‘out’ to their healthcare providers (56%)4.

A stark inattention is given to LGBTQ healthcare content in medical education as well. One study found that the average medical school devotes only 5 hours to LGBTQ healthcare education5. In comparison, the Indiana University School of Medicine devotes less (three hours) over the course of one day. Lack of LGBTQ integration may perpetuate negative perceptions and attitudes within the academic medical community, trickling down to LGBTQ medical students’ and residents’ comfortability, as many do not disclose their sexual orientation in order to avoid possible rejection,  discrimination, and poor evaluations6.

Albeit minimal, LGBTQ-competent healthcare organizations and providers do exist in the Midwest but are often unidentifiable by public and medical communities. In an effort to make such resources transparent and modernize medical education, OutCare Health (outcarehealth.org) was created, the nation’s first student-driven comprehensive health resource providing information on LGBTQ health.

How the Program Works

OutCare Health is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization with the purpose of providing extensive information and education on LGBTQ healthcare. OutCare recognizes the unique health needs of LGBTQ individuals and connects them with the most appropriate healthcare providers, resources, and events. Likewise, OutCare strives to better educate medical students, supplement healthcare providers, and energize communities to deliver high-quality, culturally-competent, unbiased healthcare.

OutCare caters to the public community as well as the medical community including medical students and current providers. The organization identifies public health services, creates and distributes original educational materials, implements medical curriculum reform, provides cultural competency trainings, promotes mentorship with the Mentor List, and populates the OutList. The Mentor List recognizes LGBTQ-competent people who are willing to serve as mentors and offer consultation of school, career, research, or other academic pursuits for students, staff, and faculty. The OutList is a directory of providers who identify as culturally-competent in the provision of care, treatment, and services of the LGBTQ population. Through these longitudinal projects, OutCare promotes awareness, provides up-to-date information and education, and increases the cultural competency of students and providers so that the future health workforce can deliver better LGBTQ care. 

PURPOSE & GOALS

General Public

  • identify public health resources tailored to LGBTQ individuals
  • provide contact information of those resources on the website
  • increase visibility of culturally-competent providers via the OutList

Medical Education

  • increase teaching hours of LGBTQ-specific content
  • provide assessment and consultation of curriculum reform
  • distribute pocket references to medical students and faculty
  • provide annual Safe Space trainings concerning LGBTQ terminology and obtaining a patient’s sexual history
  • promote mentorship between LGBTQ-competent providers, residents, and students via the Mentor List

Healthcare Providers

  • promote training modules to increase cultural competency
  • distribute informational brochures and pocket references to staff, offices, and patient waiting areas
  • provide annual Safe Space training concerning LGBTQ terminology and obtaining a patient’s sexual history
  • promote collaboration between LGBTQ-competent and inexperienced providers via the Mentor List
  • develop seminars, conferences, and networking opportunities

References

  1. Daniel, H. & Butkus, R. (2015). Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender health disparities: Executive summary of a policy position paper from the American College of Physicians. Annals of Internal Medicine, 163, 135-137.
  2. Human Rights Campaign, State Equality Index. www.hrc.org/campaigns/state-equality-index.
  3. Human Right Campaign, Health Equality Index. www.hrc.org/campaigns/healthcare-equality-index.
  4. Rullo, J., et al. (2009). The Diverse Adolescent Sexuality and Health (DASH) study: Indianapolis Site Report.
  5. Obedin-Maliver, J., et al. (2011). Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender-related content in undergraduate medical education. JAMA, 306, 971-7.
  6. Lee, K.P., Kelz, R.R., Dube, B., Morris, J.B. (2014). Attitude and perceptions of the other underrepresented minority in surgery. Journal Surgical Education, 71, 47-52.