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Journal of General Internal Medicine


Background: Sexual minority men (SMM) face severe health inequities alongside negative experiences that drive avoidance of medical care. Understanding how SMM experience healthcare is paramount to improving this population's health. Patient-centered care, which emphasizes mutual respect and collaboration between patients and providers, may alleviate the disparaging effects of the homophobia that SMM face in healthcare settings.

Objective: To explore how SMM perceive their experiences with healthcare providers and how care can most effectively meet their needs.

Design: Semi-structured qualitative interviews focused on healthcare experiences, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and HIV-related beliefs were conducted between July and November 2018.

Participants: The study included a sample of 43 young adult SMM (ages 25-27), representing diverse socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic backgrounds, in New York City.

Approach: Researchers utilized a multiphase, systematic coding method to identify salient themes in the interview transcripts.

Key results: Analyses revealed three main themes: (1) SMM perceived that their clinicians often lack adequate skills and knowledge required to provide care that considers participants' identities and behaviors; (2) SMM desired patient-centered care as a way to regain agency and actively participate in making decisions about their health; and (3) SMM felt that patient-centered care was more common with providers who were LGBTQ-affirming, including many who felt that this was especially true for LGBTQ-identified providers.

Conclusions: SMM expressed a clear and strong desire for patient-centered approaches to care, often informed by experiences with healthcare providers who were unable to adequately meet their needs. However, widespread adoption of patient-centered care will require improving education and training for clinicians, with a focus on LGBTQ-specific clinical care and cultural humility. Through centering patients' preferences and experiences in the construction of care, patient-centered care can reduce health inequities among SMM and empower healthcare utilization in a population burdened by historic and ongoing stigmatization.



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