Rutgers School of Public Health Dean, Perry N. Halkitis, along with his former doctoral student, Dr. Marybec Griffen, and colleagues, examined how young adult gay men (YAGM) in NYC engage with the healthcare system.
Healthcare engagement, or the use of health services, is limited by factors like lack of sufficient insurance coverage, co-pay costs, and distance and accessibility to healthcare facilities and providers. Young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 face additional barriers such as changing healthcare providers and navigating the healthcare system independently. These barriers are compounded by YAGM, who have the lowest rates of healthcare engagement due to additional barriers such as the discomfort of discussing sexual behaviors and their healthcare provider’s lack of knowledge on their specific health needs.
Dr. Halkitis, along with Dr. Griffen, the study’s lead author, conducted in-depth interviews with a cohort of 40 YAGM men to provide a more detailed understanding of their healthcare engagement, including detailing their experience with the healthcare system and their provider’s knowledge on their health needs.
The study found that YAGM have unique challenges in engaging with the healthcare system, including the healthcare provider’s perceived stigma and lack of knowledge on the healthcare needs of YAGM. Common barriers to accessing care by YAGM include cost, lack of insurance, and dissatisfaction with the care received. Respondents also described their reasons for dissatisfaction with care to be associated with the provider’s anti-gay attitudes, judgment of sexual behavior, or lack of knowledge on their specific health needs.
“YAGM and men who have sex with men have some of the worst health outcomes due to the lack of sufficient healthcare they receive to meet their unique needs,” comments Dean Halkitis. “To improve the health outcomes of YAGM, we must make our healthcare system more inclusive of their needs by educating healthcare providers from their initial medical education to ongoing continued education.”
Dr. Griffen completed her PhD under the guidance of Dr. Halkitis and is now an assistant professor at New Jersey City University. This study was part of Dr. Griffen’s three-paper dissertation examining healthcare access by gay men and part of Dean Halkitis’ ongoing P18 project, which follows a cohort of young men who have sex with men in NYC as they transition for adolescence to young adulthood to understand the development of both health-harming and health-promoting behaviors to improve overall health outcomes.
“A Qualitative Investigation of Healthcare Engagement Among Young Adult Gay Men in New York City: A P18 Cohort Study” was published in LGBT Health.