Article: Research highlights challenges in palliative care for LGBTIQ+ communities - LGBTIQ+ Health Australia

Article: Research highlights challenges in palliative care for LGBTIQ+ communities

Even with progress in addressing barriers faced by LGBTIQ+ people, research shows there's still significant work to be done, especially in palliative care and end-of-life services, according to Dr Fiona Ann Papps, an Associate Professor in Psychological Sciences at the Australian College of Applied Professions (ACAP).

"Many older gender and sexuality diverse people have endured terrible experiences with institutional abuse and trauma. We must continue improving our language, competence, recognition of diverse relationships, and knowledge to offer the safest and most inclusive practices, so people don't feel discriminated against."

Dr Fiona points to the historical exclusion of LGBTIQ+ participants from research by policy makers and researchers as a root cause of these issues.

Recently, in conjunction with Jason Petrides (an ACAP BPsychSci(Honours) student) and  LGBTIQ+ Health Australia, she conducted a study to better understand the needs and experiences of gender and sexuality diverse people in accessing palliative care services.

The study identified significant barriers, including the role of religious institutions in obstructing access to palliative care.

"Religious institutions host many palliative care support programs, and I would love to see education within these institutions address the trauma they've caused," said Dr Fiona.

Another major issue is the lack of recognition of relationships within palliative care services. These services often fail to acknowledge the chosen families of gender and sexuality diverse people, excluding them from decision-making and support roles.

In her study, participants also cited the following comments:

  • "Health professionals often don't understand my identity and I've had to spend a lot of time educating them. This creates an added burden on me and so, I've often avoided care because I don’t feel safe, respected, or supported.”
  • "The current public health system sees everyone as a UR Number, and rarely do staff take the time to ask relevant questions and give appropriate responses."

"Online resources and eLearning modules to inform healthcare professionals about appropriate practices and language are crucial," Dr Fiona said.

"For trans and gender diverse people, in particular, it's especially important that healthcare and mental health practitioners use the correct language when discussing the body and bodily autonomy."

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LGBTIQ+ Health Australia, (formerly the National LGBTI Health Alliance), is the national peak health organisation in Australia for organisations and individuals that provide health-related programs, services and research focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer people and other sexuality, gender and bodily diverse (LGBTIQ+) people and communities. Dropping the “+” from our name only occurs within digital formats that do not allow mathematical symbols, such as within our domain name, handles and hashtags.
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