Intersections of Physician Autonomy, Religion, and Health Care When Working With LGBT+ Patients

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The purpose of this study is to explore the ways that some health care providers perceive the intersectionality of their autonomy, religious faith, and their medical practice, specifically when it comes to providing care for the LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual) community. Physicians (n = 25) and medical residents (n = 17) located in the southeast completed a qualitative survey regarding their views of working with LGBT+ patients. Five main themes resulted from the analysis: adequate education, communication, discrimination, duty versus physician autonomy, and religious exemption. In this analysis, we focus specifically on duty versus physician autonomy and religious exemption since the other themes have been addressed in literature. The physicians and medical residents in this sample were divided among groups on the right to refuse treatment. Although there was not a question specific to religion, participants discussed religion in their responses to whether they believe in the right to refuse treatment. This division supports the need to decrease the current gap in knowledge regarding how religious views can affect physician treatment of LGBT+ patients and research effective ways to bridge the gap between physician autonomy and the duty to provide treatment.

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