Do LGBTQI+ Patients With Cancer Receive Mental Health Information Tailored to Their Needs?

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Although customized health education materials for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) cancer survivors may play a pivotal role in their experiences throughout their cancer care continuum, a study by Burnett et al has found that regardless of their satisfaction with the care they received, most LGBTQI+ cancer survivors said they lacked access to at least one vital health education resource specific to their LGBTQI+ identities during their cancer treatment. The study findings were presented during the 15th American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved (Abstract B112).

Study Methodology

The researchers identified 2,500 LGBTQI+ cancer survivors who completed the Out: National Cancer Survey, conducted by the National LGBT Cancer Network in 2020 and 2021, and classified survivors by their self-reported level of satisfaction with their overall cancer care. The researchers examined care satisfaction in relation to patient access to LGBTQI+ tailored health education resources and the influence of gender identity and/or sexual orientation on survivors’ experiences before, during, and after treatment was completed.


The researchers’ findings show that more survivors who were satisfied with their care reported feelings of safety in sharing their LGBTQI+ identities with health-care providers (73%) than did survivors who reported they were less than satisfied with their care (29%). In addition, regardless of their satisfaction with overall cancer care, most cancer survivors reported lacking access to at least one vital health education resource specific to their LGBTQI+ identities (70%) and indicated a desire for information specific to LGBTQI+ individuals in their posttreatment care plans (74%).

“LGBTQI+ cancer survivors value information and health education materials that are tailored [to their needs],” concluded the study authors.

Clinical Significance

In a statement about the study’s results, lead author, Colin Burnett, MSc, a medical student at the T.H. Chan School of Medicine at UMass Chan Medical School, asked health-care providers to respect and acknowledge differences in gender identity and sex assigned at birth. “I encourage providers to regularly ask their patients about their gender identities and sexual orientations and characterize care delivery with the unique needs and considerations of those identities in the context of their cancer. Many patients will appreciate providers first demonstrating openness and inclusivity to caring for patients in their community,” he said.

Disclosure: Funding for this study was provided by a Massachusetts Medical Society LGBTQ Health Disparities Grant.

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.