Florida Public Health Review


Publication Date

April 2009


Lesbian women experience health inequalities primarily related to their experiences of discrimination, homophobia, and the assumption of heterosexism. This milieu of experiences can lead to an avoidance of routine health care, screening, and non-disclosure of sexual orientation to physicians. Lesbians may participate in some health risk behaviors more than heterosexual women leading to an increase in risks for certain cancers, cardiovascular disease and HIV. Lesbians who discuss their sexual orientation and behavior with their physician report feeling more comfortable, experience better communication, and are more likely to seek routine medical care. Although the medical community has been making a shift away from the medical model of a paternalistic physician-patient interaction, incorporating the concepts of the relational leadership model would facilitate a more open exchange. This model focuses on all parties involved becoming a part of the leadership process, regardless of title or role. It is vision-driven with an ultimate goal of uniting people for a common purpose. The relational leadership model was named to emphasize that the focal point of the leadership process is on relationships. The relational leadership model encompasses five concepts that can be applied to the physician-patient relationship with regard to facilitating a more open communication.