Guidelines for the Primary Care of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual People: A Systematic Review (Full Text)

Published: November 11, 2010


PURPOSE We assessed whether existing guidelines for the primary care of lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) people meet appropriate standards of developmental rigor, and whether they provide consistent recommendations useful for primary care clinicians.

METHODS We performed a systematic review of such guidelines using the Cochrane Collaboration method. The countries searched were Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. For sources, we used electronic databases, guidelines databases, primary care professional organizations, government departments of public health, LGB health care textbooks, and national LGB organizations. We assessed the quality of existing guidelines using the validated Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation (AGREE) instrument and compared the recommendations from all fully appraised guidelines.

RESULTS Our search did not identify any previous systematic reviews on primary care of LGB people. Of 2,421 documents identified, we initially reviewed 30 and fully appraised 11, none of which completely satisfied the AGREE criteria for quality and only 2 of which were specifically designed for primary care. Developmental rigor was poor. Particular gaps were a lack of explicit inclusion criteria, independent reviewers, and updating procedures. Nonetheless, we did identify several consistent recommendations pertinent to primary care settings: guidance on inclusive clinical environments, standards for clinician-patient communication, sensitive documentation of sexual orientation, knowledge for cultural awareness, staff training, and addressing population health issues.

CONCLUSIONS Currently available guidelines for LGB care are philosophically and practically consistent, and provide a degree of evidence-based clinical and systems support to primary care clinicians. There is a need, however, for evidence-based LGB guidelines that are more rigorously developed, disseminated, and evaluated specifically for the primary care setting.

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