With the recent one-year anniversary of Obergefell vs Hodges--the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage--researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have published a report that identifies unequal online availability of educational materials regarding assisted reproductive technology (ART).
This disparity has implications for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) couples as more marry and begin or expand their families with ART.
The study, which appears in the journal Human Reproduction, is the first to systematically examine the prevalence of online health care information tailored for LGBT patients and suggests a potential gap in access to fertility services by LGBT persons as compared to the overall patient population.
The researchers reviewed the websites of all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) registered fertility center websites in 2014 and again in 2015. The prevalence of information targeted to LGBT patients was compared to the prevalence of information targeted to heterosexual patients. The researchers found the majority of fertility clinic websites with patient education for heterosexual couples do not have similar materials for LGBT couples.
"Differential healthcare access impacted by sexual orientation or gender identity in the fertility setting add to healthcare disparities between LGBT patients and the overall patient population," explained corresponding author Shoumita Dasgupta, PhD, associate professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine. "As part of adapting to constantly changing societal and practice environments, addressing these disparities to provide culturally competent care should become a high priority initiative for practioners in this area," she added.
According to the researchers developing these educational materials is a relatively straightforward initiative that can have many positive effects for inclusion of LGBT persons in fertility practices.
Boston University Medical Center