Experiences and Concerns of Lesbian, Gay, or Bisexual Survivors of Colorectal Cancer

Allyson Baughman

Melissa A. Clark

Ulrike Boehmer

colorectal cancer, cancer survivorship, sexual minority, patient experience, qualitative methodology
ONF 2017, 44(3), 350-357. DOI: 10.1188/17.ONF.350-357

Purpose/Objectives: To identify the experiences and needs of lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB) survivors of colorectal cancer (CRC) and to expand the current understanding of LGB survivorship by obtaining in-depth knowledge of survivorship among individuals with a cancer other than breast or prostate.

Research Approach: Qualitative, semistructured individual interviews via telephone.

Setting: Participants were recruited using social media, flyers, word of mouth, and contact with LGB and cancer organizations during a four-month period.

Participants: Eight LGB individuals with a diagnosis of stage III CRC from 2009–2014.

Methodologic Approach: All interviews were audio recorded and then transcribed verbatim. Thematic analysis performed by more than one analyst was used for the interview transcripts.

Findings: Participants described experiences with social support and isolation, cancer care from an LGB perspective, and substantial economic impacts of their cancer diagnosis. In addition, they reported struggles with health insurance coverage, employment, and housing during and after their treatment for CRC.

Conclusions: In addition to issues regarding sexual identity disclosure and social support, economic impacts of CRC exist; these are likely critical to healthy survivorship in LGB men and women.

Interpretation: Attention should be paid to the economic impact of CRC on LGB individuals, along with issues of social support and sexual identity disclosure. Oncology nurses could play an important role in determining the economic and social needs of patients with CRC, accepting the often nontraditional support networks of LGB individuals, and facilitating disclosure of an LGB identity.

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