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Inclusive language regarding gender, sexual orientation, and relationship status: the ongoing process and outcome of revising psychiatric materials

Rebecca Drill (Department of Psychiatry, Cambridge Health Alliance, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA) (Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA)
Johanna Malone (Department of Psychiatry, Cambridge Health Alliance, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA)
Meredith Flouton-Barnes (Fenway Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA)
Laura Cotton (Department of Psychiatry, Cambridge Health Alliance, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA)
Sarah Keyes (Department of Psychiatry, Cambridge Health Alliance, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA)
Rachel Wasserman (Albany, New York, USA)
Kelly Wilson (Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA)
Monica Young (Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA)
Holly Laws (Center for Research on Families, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, Massachusetts, USA)
Jack Beinashowitz (Department of Psychiatry, Cambridge Health Alliance, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA) (Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA)

The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice

ISSN: 1755-6228

Article publication date: 11 October 2019

Issue publication date: 16 October 2019

346

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to address the barrier to care experienced by LGBTQIA+ populations by binary language for gender, sexual orientation and relationship status.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors review the research that shows linguistic barriers are a significant obstacle to healthcare for LGBTQIA+ communities. The authors describe both a process and revisions for addressing language bias in psychiatric intake/research research materials as well as quantify its impact in an adult psychotherapy clinic in a public hospital.

Findings

Patients self-identified their gender, sexual orientation and relationship status in a variety of ways when not presented with binaries and/or pre-established response choices. In addition, the non-response rate to questions decreased and the authors received positive qualitative feedback. The authors also present the revisions to the intake/research materials.

Practical implications

Other healthcare settings/clinicians can revise language in order to remove significant barriers to treatment and in doing so, be welcoming, non-pathologizing and empowering for LGBTQIA+ consumers of mental health services (as well as for non-LGBTQIA+ consumers who are in non-traditional relationships).

Social implications

This work is one step in improving healthcare and the healthcare experience for LGBTQIA+ communities and for those in non-traditional relationships.

Originality/value

This work is set in a public safety-net hospital providing care for underserved and diverse populations. This paper describes the process of revising psychiatric materials to be more inclusive of the range of self-identity are: gender, sexual orientation and relationship status.

Keywords

Citation

Drill, R., Malone, J., Flouton-Barnes, M., Cotton, L., Keyes, S., Wasserman, R., Wilson, K., Young, M., Laws, H. and Beinashowitz, J. (2019), "Inclusive language regarding gender, sexual orientation, and relationship status: the ongoing process and outcome of revising psychiatric materials", The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, Vol. 14 No. 6, pp. 385-398. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMHTEP-02-2018-0009

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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