How Can Health Care Do Better for LGBTQ+ Patients?


Going to the doctor or a hospital shouldn’t require bracing for insults, angst over one’s appearance, or worries over whether a loved one can join you at your bedside. But for too many patients who identify as LGBTQ+, that’s become standard fare. Many LGBTQ+ patients report receiving worse health care on average in America. They’re far more likely to report negative experiences and disrespect, and they’re also more likely to skip care or switch providers as a result, national surveys show. These forms of discrimination contribute to worse health outcomes for a group of patients already more likely to suffer a range of health disparities, including higher rates of mental health crises, chronic disease, physical disabilities, and homelessness. But there are growing efforts to change how providers communicate with patients, with the aim of building trust and creating a sense of safety that can lead to better quality care. In this webinar, we’ll provide an overview of the landscape, discuss forward-thinking approaches to combatting discrimination, and hear suggestions from experts on how journalists can tell stories on these issues with nuance and thoughtfulness. 

This webinar is free and made possible by The Commonwealth Fund and the National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation.


Carey Candrian

Carey Candrian, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the division of general internal medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Her research examines how communication affects outcomes in healthcare — and specifically how it impacts older lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) adults, and those who care for them. Candrian received her master’s degree in organizational communication and a Ph.D. in health communication from the University of Colorado. She completed postdoctoral training in health literacy at the University of Lugano, Switzerland. She is on the board of directors at GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing Health Equity, and is the vice president for the Lesbian Health Fund. She has appeared on Colorado Public Radio, NPR, PBS NewsHour and the American Medical Association (AMA) Moving Medicine Series for her work advancing health equity for LGBTQ older adults. She is also the creator of "Eye to Eye: Portraits of Pride, Strength and Beauty" (a photo exhibit of older LGBTQ women), and director of the documentary, “Just Us: The longing and hope of LGBTQ people.”

Jen Christensen photo

Jen Christensen is a producer with CNN’s Health, Medical and Wellness Unit. In addition, she produces multi-platform projects and documentaries, primarily for CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. She also does data analysis and is a reporter for She has earned the highest awards in broadcasting, including the Peabody and the DuPont. Prior to CNN, she was an investigative producer with WSOC-TV in Charlotte, North Carolina. She launched and managed the award-winning investigative unit at WTVQ-TV, Lexington, Kentucky, after working as a show and segment producer. She has also worked as a freelance reporter and photographer for The Advocate, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, Southern Voice, Sirius OutQ Radio News and others. From 2013-2018, she served as the national president of NLGJA, the Association of LGBTQ Journalists and is currently the VP of Digital and Print. Christensen holds a bachelor’s degree in TV/Radio and politics from Butler University and also attended the London School of Economics, where she studied foreign policy and economics.

Lindsey Dawson

Lindsey Dawson is associate director of HIV Policy and director of LGBTQ Health Policy at KFF. Dawson conducts research and analysis on HIV policy in the United States. Her work focuses on how health systems, insurance coverage and federal funding affect access to care for people with HIV and the programs that serve them. Dawson also focuses on LGBTQ health policy issues, particularly those related to disparities, access and coverage. Prior to joining KFF, she was a policy associate with The AIDS Institute, where she worked on domestic HIV policy and the ACA. She has also worked on KFF’s Medicare team. Dawson holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology and women’s studies from Smith College and a Master of Public Policy degree from King’s College London.


LGBT Adults’ Experiences with Discrimination and Health Care Disparities: Findings from the KFF Survey of Racism, Discrimination, and Health,” by Alex Montero, Liz Hamel, Samantha Artiga, and Lindsey Dawson, Kaiser Family Foundation

Health Status and Health Care Access Among Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Adults in the US, 2013 to 2018,” by Michael Liu et al., JAMA Internal Medicine, February 2023 

Disparities in Mortality by Sexual Orientation in a Large, Prospective Cohort of Female Nurses,” by Sarah McKetta et al., JAMA, April 25, 2024

Gaps in Health Care Access and Health Insurance Among LGBT Populations in California,” UCLA Center for Health Policy Research

Advance Care Planning Experiences Among Sexual and Gender Minority People,” by Amanda Jane Reich et al., JAMA Network Open

In her own words: understanding the health needs of older lesbians,” by Carey Candrian et al., Journal of Women and Aging

Covering LGBTQ+ health and health care: Reporting tips and story ideas,” by Naseem S. Miller, The Journalist’s Resource

‘I felt judged’: LGBTQ+ Americans report significantly more medical discrimination,” by Orion Rummler and Jasmine Mithani, The 19th

Biden Administration Restores Health Protections for Gay and Transgender People,” by Noah Weiland, The New York Times

On the Margins,” by Jake Miller, Harvard Medicine