A new report from Public Health England (PHE) says there are specific opportunities to improve the health of lesbian, bisexual and other women who have sex with women (LBWSW) in the UK.
The document, Improving the health and wellbeing of lesbian and bisexual women and other women who have sex with women, says there is evidence that LBWSWs experience significant health inequalities, and specific barriers to services and support. In particular, international and UK evidence suggests that LBWSW experience inequalities in relation to mental health, reproductive health issues, domestic violence and health risk behaviours such as smoking and alcohol misuse. There is also evidence from the England GP Patient Survey to show higher rates of musculoskeletal health issues, asthma and respiratory conditions and some types of cancer among LB women compared to heterosexual women.
The absence of needs-based and appropriate approaches may further compound the inequality experienced, the PHE report states. It highlights opportunities for action to address LBWSW inequalities but says these “will require developing solutions at national and local level with partnerships across the breadth of the public health system and consistent co-production including engagement with LBWSW communities and organisations”.
Among the issues identified is the need to ensure that all healthcare professionals have a good understanding of LBWSW’s health issues “through a coherent and structured embedded approach to sex, gender and sexual orientation across undergraduate and post-graduate healthcare professional education”.
The report also calls for specific consideration of the needs of this group in the care pathway planning and integrated care models being developed by the NHS England based on the increased prevalence of specific health conditions among lesbian and bisexual adolescents and adult women.
The proposals are based on a systematic evidence review commissioned by which is being published separately in a series of peer review journals.