UMMS Affiliation

Meyers Primary Care Institute; Department of Medicine, Division of Geriatric Medicine

Publication Date


Document Type



Adult; Female; Focus Groups; *Health Behavior; Health Services Accessibility; Homosexuality, Female; Humans; Massachusetts; Middle Aged; Minority Groups; Patient Acceptance of Health Care; Professional-Patient Relations; Questionnaires; *Women's Health; Women's Health Services


Health Services Research | Primary Care


OBJECTIVE: The healthcare needs of lesbians are not well understood. We sought to characterize lesbians' experiences with, and preferences for, women's healthcare.

METHODS: We conducted three age-stratified focus groups (18-29, 30-50, and >50 years) with a total of 22 participants using a semistructured interview guide to elicit lesbians' experiences and preferences. We analyzed transcripts of these audiotaped sessions using the constant comparative method of grounded theory. Community-dwelling women who self-identified as lesbian and responded to advertisements were selected on first-come basis.

RESULTS: Participants voiced experiences and preferences for healthcare that emerged into three themes: desired models of care, desired processes of care, and desired patient-provider relationship. Each theme was further developed into multiple subthemes. Within the subthemes we identified issues that were specific to lesbians and those that were general women's health issues. Participants preferred, but did not always receive, care that is comprehensive in scope, person centered, nondiscriminatory, and inclusive of them as lesbians.

CONCLUSIONS: Healthcare providers, institutions, and society should adopt an inviting, person-centered approach toward lesbians seeking healthcare, assure them access to healthcare information, and establish healthcare delivery systems that take all aspects of health into account.

DOI of Published Version



J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2008 Mar;17(2):215-25. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of women's health (2002)


At the time of publication, Jennifer Tjia was not yet affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID