Towards LGBTQ-affirmative cancer care and support: Barriers and opportunities


Background: Survey data suggest that LGBT people report lower levels of satisfaction with healthcare for cancer than heterosexuals. This presentation summarises findings from recent qualitative research to understand the experiences of British LGBT people with cancer and their long-term partners. Methods: Participants were recruited through 5 oncology units at British hospitals, 2 cancer support charities and through media campaigns. In-depth interviews typically lasting between 45 and 75 minutes were carried out with 31 cancer patients who identified as lesbian (N=13), gay (N=14), bisexual (N= 3) and queer (N=1) and 9 long-term partners of cancer patients who identified as lesbian (N= 5), gay (N= 2) and trans* (N=2). Data were analysed through thematic analysis. Findings: Three themes are presented: Understanding the Motives, Meanings and ‘Mechanics’ of Disclosure explores how decisions around whether to ‘come out’ as LGBTQ are influenced by several factors including anticipated stigma, perceived moral or political ‘obligation’ and the manner of healthcare professionals. Creating and Communicating LGBTQ-Affirmative Spaces outlines anxieties faced by LGBTQ patients in interactions with staff and patients in clinical spaces such as waiting-rooms and hospital wards and the desire for more explicit evidencing of an anti-discriminatory culture. Finally Seeking LGBTQ-tailored Information and Support shows how current cancer support typically fails to meet psychosocial and psychosexual needs of LGBTQ patients.
Discussion: The findings can be used to influence policy and practice by statutory and voluntary agencies to ensure that effective oncology treatment is accompanied by an holistic understanding of the needs and concerns of LGBTQ patients



LGBT, Qualitative, research, cancer


Williamson, I.R., Fish,J., Wildbur, D., Bell, K., Padley, W. & Brown, J. (2018) Towards LGBTQ-affirmative cancer care and support: Barriers and opportunities [Oral Presentation]. 32nd Conference of European Health Psychological Society, Galway, Ireland, August 2018.


Research Institute

Institute for Psychological Science
Institute of Health, Health Policy and Social Care