When primary healthcare meets queerstory: community-based system dynamics influencing regional/rural LGBTQ + people’s access to quality primary healthcare in Australia
BMC Public Health 2023 23:387
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, Queer, and people of any other minority sexuality or gender identity (LGBTQ + or “Queer”) are often marginalised from accessing quality primary healthcare (PHC) in their local community. This is largely due to Queerphobic, cis-heteronormative/sexist systems pathologising Queer life and identities. The study aims were to: (1) identify key priorities for increasing Queer people’s access to quality PHC as told by Queer people themselves, (2) identify the feedback loops that reduce or support Queer people’s access to quality PHC in non-metropolitan, regional/rural communities, and (3) identify potential action areas to improve system structures to increase Queer people’s access to quality PHC.
Group Model Building (GMB) workshops were held with a small group (n = 8) of LGBTQ + people in regional Victoria with lived experience of using PHC services. This participatory approach permits exploration and visual mapping of local structures causing behaviour patterns of community concern over time – in this case, Queer people’s ability to access quality PHC in the Geelong-Barwon region. This is the first study that specially applies GMB in Queer PHC in the non-metropolitan regional/rural context.
Key community identified PHC priorities were: (a) providers’ level of Queer Literacy, (b) the responsibility of Queer Advocacy (at individual, systemic, and collective levels), (c) support from safe Queer Spaces, (d) strength from a Queer Presence, and (e) power from Intersectional Queer Life. These priorities interconnected, creating system-level feedback loops reinforcing barriers and enablers to Queer people’s access to quality PHC in the Geelong-Barwon region; with potential action areas identified.
Improving Queer people’s access to quality PHC in the Geelong-Barwon region requires embedding principles of Queer Literacy, Queer Advocacy, Queer Space, Queer Presence, and Intersectional Queer Life within practices and service systems. The study findings were distilled into a novel, preliminary set of Queer Equity Principles. These need to be taken back to regional Queer communities for further co-design and planning for translation across PHC practices and systems, with potential applicability in other areas of the healthcare spectrum.