A new study from Yale University and Oregon Health and Science University looks at how doctor’s prejudices toward LGBT patients change during medical school.
Yale researcher Natalie Wittlin and her colleagues were worried about data that showed some LGBT patients felt uncomfortable, even stigmatized, by their doctors.
They reached out to medical students around the country and surveyed them about their experiences and changing beliefs as they went through their programs.
“We found that the amount of contact these heterosexual cisgender med students had with LGBT folks during med school, and also how positive they found their experiences with LGBT folks, the less bias they express during their second year of residency, and that’s when they’re working as practicing physicians.”
That’s in line with a lot of evidence that shows the more you’re exposed to LGBT people, the less biased you become.
Wittlin says that trend is even more important when it comes to physicians.
“Physicians, we know, have a lot of power and their prejudices can have an impact not only on friends, family members, but all the patients they see. That can potentially have these consequences in terms of health outcomes.”
Wittlin says it’s too early to talk about how to change doctors’ behaviors and lead to better experiences for patients. But she says this research has filled in one important piece of the puzzle.