FRIDAY, Jan. 25, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Most oncologists report a lack of knowledge about treating lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) patients, according to survey results published online Jan. 16 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Matthew B. Schabath, Ph.D., from the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa, Florida, and colleagues used the American Medical Association Physician Masterfile to identify 450 oncologists from 45 National Cancer Institute-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers for a survey. The authors evaluated oncologists’ attitudes and knowledge about LGBTQ health and institutional practices. Responses from 149 oncologists were included.

The researchers found high agreement (65.8 percent) regarding the importance of knowing the gender identity of patients, but there was low agreement (39.6 percent) regarding the importance of knowing sexual orientation. Seven in 10 respondents had interest in receiving education regarding the unique health needs of LGBTQ patients. Knowledge questions revealed high percentages of “neutral” and “do not know or prefer not to answer” responses. After completing the survey, respondents’ confidence regarding knowledge of health needs for LGB and transgender patients significantly declined compared with their confidence before completing the survey (53.1 to 38.9 percent and 36.9 to 19.5 percent, respectively).

“At the institutional level, education and further training should be offered to physicians so they can be both culturally sensitive and clinically informed about LGBTQ cancer issues,” a coauthor said in a statement.

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