Doctoring gay men: Exploring the contribution of General Practice

Keogh, Peter; Weatherburn, Peter; Henderson, Laurie; Reid, David; Dodds, Catherine and Hickson, Ford (2004). Doctoring gay men: Exploring the contribution of General Practice. Sigma Research, London.



Primary care is the first point of contact with the NHS for many people. It includes services provided outside hospitals by general practitioners, practice nurses, community nurses, health visitors, dentists, opticians, pharmacists etc. This report is concerned mainly with gay and bisexual men’s experiences of, and interactions with General Practice (GP) surgeries. Two concerns prompted this research. First, research which continually indicates that men are less likely to access primary care services than women (Lloyd & Forrest 2001; Manfield et al. 2003) which contrasts with unreported findings from our Gay Men’s Sex Survey (henceforth GMSS) revealing relatively high uptake of primary care services among gay and bisexual men. Second, recent government policy (Department of Health 2001; 2002; 2003a; 2003b) has sought to increase the role of GP staff in delivering sexual health services.

This report addresses three main questions. First, what are the patterns in usage of GP and other health services among gay and bisexual men across the UK? Second, what factors mediate their use and disclosure of their sexuality to their GP? Finally, what factors need to be taken into account when we consider the GP surgery as a site for sexual health services? This research not only investigates the various ways in which gay and bisexual men regard their relationships with their doctors and other General Practice staff, but also examines the many barriers to direct communication about sexuality in GP surgeries.

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