Concurrent Sessions

B3-a – Building Positive Space in Primary Care to Improve Access for LGBTQ Patients

Theme 3. Expanding your reach

Presentation Details

  • Date: Wednesday, October 24, 2018
  • Concurrent Session B
  • Time: 3:30-4:15pm
  • Room: Marine
  • Style: Workshop (session is structure for interaction and/or hands-on learning opportunities)
  • Focus: Practical (e.g. Presentation on how to implement programs and/or practices in the team environment)
  • Target Audience: Clinical providers,

Learning Objectives

  1. Evaluate the degree of positive space for patients and staff in a primary care organization.
  2. Demonstrate how increasing positive space improves LGBTQ patient access to physical and mental health services.
  3. Build the competencies of health providers to address the physical and mental health needs of this population of patients.


The Rainbow Health Organization reports, “due in part to negative past experiences, many LGBT people may delay or avoid seeking health care altogether.” A report released by the Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton, found that only 57% of LGBTQ-identified respondents were out to their family physician. The isolation experienced by LGBTQ people can lead to a higher rate of alcohol and drug use, smoking, mental health issues and suicide (Peterkin and Risdon, 2003). Some members of the LGBTQ community may be reluctant to enroll with a family practice, or disclose certain aspects of their personal history unless they are certain that they will be completely welcome. The Hamilton Family Health Team is comprised of 166 family physicians and their primary care teams.  We are committed to inclusion and access for all citizens of Hamilton. The HFHT Positive Working Group was formed in 2012 to discuss ways to create a more LGBTQ friendly organization for our patients and for our providers. This presentation will explore the steps taken, the outcomes and impacts; most specifically those related to developing greater cultural and clinical competency to respond to the mental health needs of LGBTQ persons.  Participants will be invited to analyze their own settings and share related learnings.


  • Sabrena Dorris, BSc., M.A. , Manager, Communications and Operation, Hamilton Family Health Team
  • Tim Elliott, MSW RSW, Hamilton Family Health Team
  • Dawn Atwell, Clinic Co-ordinator, Crown Point Family Health Centre (Hamilton FHT)
  • Rob Kerr, family physician, HFHT

Authors & Contributors

  • Rob Kerr, family physician, HFHT
  • Devan Nambiar. MSc, Education & Training Coordinator, Rainbow Health