What is minority stress and how does it relate to how LGBTQI people experience healthcare? Watch a short film where Anna Malmquist, a researcher at Linköpings Universitet, explains the term and provides tips for how healthcare staff, especially in maternal healthcare, can contribute to reducing minority stress.
There are strong norms about gender and sexuality in society, which excludes and makes LGBTQI people invisible and exposes them to discrimination, the threat of violence, violence, violations and harassment.
To be part of a minority group and having to be on one’s guard and prepared to be harassed or questioned can lead to psychosocial stress. Scientists call this kind of stress minority stress.
Even common, more or less subtle, events can contribute to minority stress. These are called microaggressions. It might be looks, questions and comments that mirror ignorance or prejudice, but also exotification where someone is viewed as eccentric/exotic because of their sexual orientation, their gender identity and/or gender expression. Microaggressions are often subconscious acts and they’re sometimes hard for the victim to pin-point.
Research shows that people who experience minority stress in their everyday lives have poorer mental and physical health than people who don’t. Not all LGBTQI people are affected by minority stress, and it’s important to be aware that most LGBTQI people are in good health, but the overall number of people who experience ill-health is higher in the LGBTQI population than in the population in general. Minority stress is one contributing factor.
Minority stress can affect inter-personal relationships and experiences, for example, experiences with healthcare. Many LGBTQI people have lower confidence in healthcare providers than the population in general. Some are reluctant to seek care because they fear a heteronormative reception. Healthcare staff, therefore, need to know how norms permeate society and how minority stress affects LGBTQI people.
The suggestion for further reading given by Anna Malmquist in the film is: Lundberg, T., Malmquist, A. & Wurm, M. (red.) (2017). HBTQ+: psykologiska perspektiv och bemötande. (Första utgåvan). [Stockholm]: Natur & kultur.