Building healthcare workers' confidence to work with same-sex parented families

Henry Von Doussa, Jennifer Power, Ruth McNair, Rhonda Brown, Margot J Schofield, Amaryll Perlesz, Marian Pitts, Andrew Bickerdike

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


This article reports on a qualitative study of barriers and access to healthcare for same-sex attracted parents and their children. Focus groups were held with same-sex attracted parents to explore their experiences with healthcare providers and identify barriers and facilitators to access. Parents reported experiencing uncomfortable or anxiety-provoking encounters with healthcare workers who struggled to adopt inclusive or appropriate language to engage their family. Parents valued healthcare workers who were able to be open and honest and comfortably ask questions about their relationships and family. A separate set of focus groups were held with mainstream healthcare workers to identity their experiences and concerns about delivering equitable and quality care for same-sex parented families. Healthcare workers reported lacking confidence to actively engage with same-sex attracted parents and their children. This lack of confidence related to workers' unfamiliarity with same-sex parents, or lesbian, gay and bisexual culture, and limited opportunities to gain information or training in this area. Workers were seeking training and resources that offered information about appropriate language and terminology as well as concrete strategies for engaging with same-sex parented families. For instance, workers suggested they would find it useful to have a set of 'door opening' questions they could utilize to ask clients about their sexuality, relationship status or family make-up. This article outlines a set of guidelines for healthcare providers for working with same-sex parented families which was a key outcome of this study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)459-469
Number of pages11
JournalHealth Promotion International
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • cultural competency
  • cultural sensitivity training
  • lesbian and gay health
  • lesbian and gay parenting

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