alexa Abstract | Exploring lesbiansÂ’ health behaviours and risk perceptions

Diversity & Equality in Health and Care
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Little is known about lesbians’ healthcare behaviour in the UK or about the ways it may differ from that of heterosexual women. The UK Lesbians and Health Care Survey examines lesbians’ health behaviours, specifically their participation in breast and cervical screening, their risk perceptions of cancer and their experiences of healthcare. The survey utilised a combined research instrument which collected both quantitative and qualitative data. The sample was socially diverse and included participation from 1066 lesbians living throughout the UK. Descriptive statistics are presented for health behaviours, alongside qualitative explanations for them. Lesbians were somewhat more likely to have never had a smear test and attended less regularly for cervical screening. They were less likely to practise breast self-examination regularly, but equally as likely to have had mammograms as heterosexual women. Content analysis of the qualitative data was used to identify key categories. Pain and distress and appropriate attitudes and behaviour were the most commonly cited adverse and positive experiences for both breast and cervical screening. Lesbians were much less likely to believe they were at risk of cervical cancer than heterosexual women. These data contribute to our understanding of lesbians’ patterns of health-seeking behaviours, and may help to inform the provision of culturally competent healthcare.

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Author(s): Julie Fish

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