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Oncologist Survey on Knowledge About LGBTQ Patients With Cancer

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Key Points

  • Oncologists exhibited limited knowledge of health and cancer needs of LGBTQ patients, but high interest in receiving education in the area.
  • Oncologist confidence in their knowledge of patient needs decreased after completion of the survey. 

In a national survey of oncologists reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Schabath et al found that whereas oncologists tended to have limited knowledge regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) patient health and cancer needs, they indicated high interest in education regarding this community.

Study Details

In the study, a random sample of 450 oncologists from 45 National Cancer Institute–designated comprehensive cancer centers were selected to complete a survey regarding attitudes and knowledge about LGBTQ health and institutional practices and assessing desire for future training and education in this area.

Knowledge and Desire for Education

Among 149 respondents, 65.8% agreed with the importance of knowing the gender identity of patients, whereas 39.6% agreed with the importance of knowing patient sexual orientation. There were high percentages of “neutral” and “do not know or prefer not to answer” responses to questions regarding specific knowledge questions about LGBTQ health needs and practices; however, overall, 70.4% of respondents reported high interest in receiving education regarding the unique health nees of these patients.

When during-survey assessments were compared with post-survey assessments, significantly fewer oncologists reported being confident in knowledge regarding health needs for LGB patients (53.1% vs 38.9%, P < .001) and health needs for transgender patients (36.9% vs 19.5%, P < .001). Analyses stratifying for such factors as having LGBTQ friends and/or family members, political affiliation, oncology specialty, years since graduation, and oncologist region of the country indicated that these factors were associated with limited differences in oncologist attitude and knowledge.

The investigators concluded, “This was the first nationwide study, to our knowledge, of oncologists assessing attitudes, knowledge, and institutional practices of LGBTQ patients with cancer. Overall, there was limited knowledge about LGBTQ health and cancer needs but a high interest in receiving education regarding this community.”

Matthew B. Schabath, PhD, of the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, is the corresponding author for the Journal of Clinical Oncology article.

Disclosure: The study was supported by the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer and Research Institute and the National Cancer Institute. The study authors’ full disclosures can be found at jco.ascopubs.org.

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.


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