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A call for all healthcare professionals to prioritize sex and gender minorities' health through innovations in education, research and practice

  • Maria Maddalena Sirufo
    Affiliations
    Department of Life, Health and Environmental Sciences, University of L'Aquila, L'Aquila, Italy

    Allergy and Clinical Immunology Unit, Center for the diagnosis and treatment of Osteoporosis, AUSL04 Teramo, Italy

    Technical group for the coordination of Gender Medicine, Teramo, Italy
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  • Lina Maria Magnanimi
    Affiliations
    Department of Life, Health and Environmental Sciences, University of L'Aquila, L'Aquila, Italy
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  • Lia Ginaldi
    Affiliations
    Department of Life, Health and Environmental Sciences, University of L'Aquila, L'Aquila, Italy

    Allergy and Clinical Immunology Unit, Center for the diagnosis and treatment of Osteoporosis, AUSL04 Teramo, Italy

    Technical group for the coordination of Gender Medicine, Regione Abruzzo, Italy
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  • Massimo De Martinis
    Correspondence
    Corresponding author: Massimo De Martinis, Department of Life, Health and Environmental Sciences, University of L'Aquila, Piazzale Salvatore Tommasi n. 1, 67100 L'Aquila, Italy.
    Affiliations
    Department of Life, Health and Environmental Sciences, University of L'Aquila, L'Aquila, Italy

    Allergy and Clinical Immunology Unit, Center for the diagnosis and treatment of Osteoporosis, AUSL04 Teramo, Italy

    Technical group for the coordination of Gender Medicine, Regione Abruzzo, Italy
    Search for articles by this author
      We read with great interest the article “How can the nursing profession help reduce sexual and gender minority related health disparities: Recommendations from the national nursing LGBTQ health summit” recently published in the Journal (
      • Hughes T.L.
      • Jackman K.
      • Dorsen C.
      • Arslanian-Engoren C.
      • Ghazal L.
      • Christenberry-Deceased T.
      • Walker R.
      How can the nursing profession help reduce sexual and gender minority related health disparities: Recommendations from the national nursing LGBTQ health summit.
      ). The Authors report the topics discussed in the first National Nursing LGBTQ Health Summit. Sex/gender minorities (SGM) experience significant health inequities. These populations can have very complex health needs and often face disadvantages and discrimination in accessing care (
      • Sirufo M.M.
      • Magnanimi L.M.
      • Ginaldi L.
      • De Martinis M.
      How to ensure better healthcare experiences for transgender people.
      ). The inequality of care for SGM causes an increase of psychiatric disorders, substance abuse, infections, chronic diseases and certain types of cancer. All over the world we find important gaps in health systems that hinder the fulfillment of the specific health needs of transgender people and people of different genders (TGD) but also in providing them with basic health care with respect, dignity and sensitivity (
      • Hana T.
      • Butler K.
      • Young L.T.
      • Zamora G.
      • Lam J.S.H.
      Transgender health in medical education.
      ). Public Health research and practice have as their fundamental goal the reduction of disparities and inequities in care. Data from across the globe demonstrate that physicians, postgraduate and undergraduate medical students, nurses and other health professionals are not fully equipped to provide high-quality and comprehensive care to SGM. Especially in higher-income contexts, there is a progressive commitment in academia, medicine and public health, to consider and improve the health of SGM. However, we must note that with a few notable exceptions, topics related to SGM health are minimally or not included in the educational curricula of health professionals. Also
      • Hughes T.L.
      • Jackman K.
      • Dorsen C.
      • Arslanian-Engoren C.
      • Ghazal L.
      • Christenberry-Deceased T.
      • Walker R.
      How can the nursing profession help reduce sexual and gender minority related health disparities: Recommendations from the national nursing LGBTQ health summit.
      confirm that despite national recommendations, in nursing schools, faculty and administrative managers have not been prompt in incorporating SGM health content into nursing curricula. Summit attendees agreed that an increase in SGM specific content in nursing curricula, practice guidelines, faculty development and research is necessary to improve the health of SGM people. Research is growing but knowledge and training in TGD medicine is still suboptimal and insufficient. Including SGM related content in health professionals curricula is the foundation to provide TGD- sensitive care. Educational initiatives of this kind have been successfully introduced and confirm the importance of disseminating them as much as possible (
      • Sherman A.D.F.
      • McDowell A.
      • Clark K.D.
      • Balthazar M.
      • Klepper M.
      • Bower K.
      Transgender and gender diverse health education for future nurses: Students' knowledge and attitudes.
      ;
      • Eriksson S.E.
      • Safer J.D.
      Evidence-based curricular content improves student knowledge and changes attitudes towards transgender medicine.
      ). There is the need for continuing professional development to upskill the existing health workforce and for the enhancements of initial training of health professionals to build a personalized medicine capable of giving the right answers to the health request of SGM people. To meet the needs of TGD people it is imperative to implement educational curricula (
      • Sirufo MM
      • Magnanimi LM
      • Ginaldi L
      • De Martinis M
      Strategies to optimise health in transgender individuals.
      ). Including SGM health in health professional education will help achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda to leave no one behind. So, we broaden the call by
      • Hughes T.L.
      • Jackman K.
      • Dorsen C.
      • Arslanian-Engoren C.
      • Ghazal L.
      • Christenberry-Deceased T.
      • Walker R.
      How can the nursing profession help reduce sexual and gender minority related health disparities: Recommendations from the national nursing LGBTQ health summit.
      to action for all healthcare professionals to prioritize SGM health through innovations in education, research and practice. An International health professionals strategy that addresses SGM health disparities is needed and among other initiatives such as that of the Summit reported by the Authors must be repeated and implemented.
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