Polyamorous individuals often face bias and discrimination in various aspects of life. One of the most critical areas where these biases become evident is in healthcare. Healthcare providers must provide equitable services to all, irrespective of their relationship structure. In this article, we will explore the different ways bias can manifest in healthcare for polyamorous individuals and how both patients and providers can work together to overcome these challenges.
Polyamorous Bias Healthcare Table of Contents
Understanding Polyamory and Bias in Healthcare
Polyamory is a relationship structure in which a person has multiple romantic and/or sexual partners, with the knowledge and consent of all involved. Although polyamorous relationships have gained more visibility in recent years, they are still often misunderstood and stigmatized. This lack of understanding can extend to healthcare providers, resulting in polyamorous patients facing unique challenges when accessing medical services.
Some of these challenges might include:
- Judgment or discomfort from healthcare providers.
- Lack of understanding or knowledge about the unique health needs and risks associated with non-monogamous relationships.
- Inadequate patient privacy and confidentiality, especially when multiple partners are involved.
- Difficulty accessing appropriate mental health services that understand polyamorous relationships.
- Insurance issues and barriers when multiple partners are involved in medical decisions.
Strategies to Combat Bias in Healthcare Systems
By acknowledging the existence of polyamorous healthcare bias, we can take actionable steps to create more inclusive and equitable healthcare systems for everyone. So, what are some ways that both healthcare providers and patients can work to combat this bias?
For Healthcare Providers:
- Educate Yourself: Take steps to learn about polyamorous relationships, the unique health needs associated, and the common biases that may surround polyamorous individuals. Information can be found through reputable online sources, non-monogamy advocacy organizations, and learning from other healthcare providers experienced with polyamory.
- Practice Cultural Humility: Understand that everyone's experiences and cultural backgrounds are different, and be willing to adapt and learn from your patients. Approach discussions on polyamory with empathy and an open mind.
- Create a Safe Environment: Ensure your practice is welcoming and inclusive. This might include displaying LGBTQ+ friendly materials, using inclusive language in forms and documentation, and practicing empathetic communication.
- Collaborate with Mental Health Professionals: Engage with mental health professionals who are knowledgeable in polyamorous relationships to ensure that patient needs are met holistically.
- Understand and Address Insurance Issues: Become familiar with the intricacies of insurance policies for polyamorous families, and advocate for equitable insurance policies whenever possible.
- Be Open with Your Healthcare Provider: Communicate honestly about your polyamorous relationships and any associated health concerns to ensure your provider can better understand your needs and provide appropriate care.
- Advocate for Yourself: Be prepared to educate your healthcare providers about polyamory if necessary, and reinforce your right to equitable and inclusive care.
- Connect with Community Resources: Seek out supportive polyamory-friendly healthcare providers, networks, and resources within your community. Websites or social media forums based on polyamory may provide valuable recommendations.
- Establish Trust: If you have concerns about privacy, discuss them with your healthcare provider, and establish a system that ensures patient confidentiality for all parties involved in your care.
- Be Prepared: Have a solid understanding of your insurance policy, and be ready to address any barriers to care related to insurance coverage for polyamorous families.
Polyamorous Bias Healthcare Example:
A polyamorous person visits their local healthcare provider due to concerns about sexually transmitted infections (STIs). In this situation, the provider should approach the conversation with curiosity and understanding without judgment, as they would with any other patient. They should ask open-ended questions about the patient's relationships, inquire about everyone's sexual health practices, and suggest appropriate STI testing for all involved. Finally, the healthcare provider should respect the privacy of the patient and their partners by following strict confidentiality guidelines. In turn, the patient should be open and honest with their provider, educate them about polyamory if needed, and advocate for their rights to quality care.
Addressing polyamorous bias in healthcare is critical to ensuring that every individual, regardless of their relationship structure, has access to quality and equitable care. By understanding the challenges faced by polyamorous individuals and implementing the strategies discussed, healthcare providers and patients can work together to create a more inclusive and just healthcare system. If you found this article helpful, please consider sharing it with your network, and explore other guides on The Monogamy Experiment to further your understanding of non-monogamy, monogamy, and polyamory.