More support should be made available for gay and lesbian people suffering from inflammatory bowel disease, say UK nurse researchers.
A team from London’s Florence Nightingale school of nursing and midwifery interviewed around 20 people in their study, which was funded by the charity Crohn’s & Colitis UK.
Lead study author Christine Norton, professor of clinical nursing and innovation at King’s College London, said: “A major finding from our study is that there is a clear parallel between the experience of coming out about sexual identity and coming out about IBD – both very personal and intimate areas of a person’s life.
“There could be real potential to draw on these coming out skills to help anyone with IBD, regardless of sexual orientation, to share information about their illness with others.”
She added: “The heteronormative culture of the NHS was key issue in how GL people experience care for their IBD.
“Several of the people we spoke to said they had experienced difficulties in having their partner fully involved in their medical and nursing care, especially with physical support when in hospital such as hand holding and hugging, because they are worried about creating an atmosphere with other patients.”
Helen Terry, director of information and support at Crohn’s & Colitis UK, said the report has provided the charity with some “excellent insight into how we can better meet the needs of gay and lesbian people”.
“It is essential that GL people are given the same sense of community, and we are now looking at ways we can enable peer support and provide tailored information and advice.”