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Open Access Homophobia and Heterosexism in Cancer Care: The Experiences of Lesbians Homophobie et hétérosexisme dans la prestation des soins contre le cancer: l'expérience des lesbiennes

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Abstract:

This participatory, qualitative study examines "what is lesbian" about lesbians' experiences of cancer and cancer care. Twenty-six lesbians were interviewed about their experiences of cancer diagnosis, treatment, and support, and their feelings and perceptions about shifts in identity, body, sexuality, and relationships. This paper highlights how homophobia and heterosexism, in contemporary nursing practice and as historical features of the health-care system, shape the experiences of lesbians with cancer. A minority of participants were targeted, denied standard care, or had aspects of their identity and social context relevant to cancer care dismissed. The majority commented on the lack of attention to lesbian realities in psychosocial support. A legacy of heterosexism appears to prompt strategic efforts to avoid homophobia and also appears to foster gratitude for equitable care. Nurse educators, practitioners, and policy-makers have critical roles to play in the accessibility of cancer care.

French
Cette étude participative et qualitative examine la particularité de l'expérience des lesbiennes en ce qui concerne le cancer et la prestation des soins contre le cancer. On a interviewé 26 lesbiennes sur leur expérience en matière de dépistage du cancer, de traitement et de l'aide qu'elle ont reçue ainsi que sur leurs sentiments et perceptions à propos des changements survenus dans leur identité, leur corps, leur sexualité et leurs relations. Le document montre de quelle façon la manière dont l'homophobie et l'hétérosexisme, dans la pratique actuelle des soins infirmiers et comme élément historique du système de soins de santé, façonnent le vécu des lesbiennes atteintes de cancer. Un petit nombre de participantes a été ciblé, s'est vu refuser des soins courants, ou estime que l'on a pas tenu compte d'aspects de leur identité et de leur contexte social importants pour la prestation des soins contre le cancer. La majorité a souligné que les réalités lesbiennes étaient peu prises en compte dans l'aide psychosociale. Un hétérosexisme résiduel semble déclencher des efforts stratégiques pour éviter l'homophobie et donne lieu à de la gratitude lorsque des soins équitables sont fournis. Les infirmières enseignantes, les médecins praticiens et les décisionnaires ont tous un rôle crucial à jouer en matière d'accessibilité aux soins contre le cancer.

Keywords: CANCER; DISCRIMINATION; HEALTH-SERVICES ACCESSIBILITY; LESBIAN

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2004

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