A scoping review of sexual minority women's health in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Affiliation

Columbia University School of Nursing, United States. Electronic address: [Email]

Abstract

OBJECTIVE : Despite research documenting significant health disparities among sexual minority women (lesbian, bisexual, and other non-heterosexual women) in high-income countries, few studies of sexual minority women's health have been conducted in low- and middle-income countries. The purpose of this scoping review was to examine the empirical literature related to the health disparities and health needs of sexual minority women in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), and to identify research gaps and priorities.
METHODS : A scoping review methodology was used.
METHODS : We conducted a comprehensive search of seven electronic databases. The search strategy combined keywords in three areas: sexual minority women, health, and LAC. English, Spanish, and Portuguese language studies published through 2017 in peer-reviewed journals were included.
METHODS : A total 1471 articles were retrieved. An additional 5 articles were identified following descendancy search; 3 of these met inclusion criteria. After removal of duplicates and title and abstract screening, we screened the full text of 37 articles, of which 22 (representing 18 distinct studies) met inclusion criteria. At least two authors independently reviewed and abstracted data from all articles.
RESULTS : More than half of the studies were conducted in Brazil (n = 9) and Mexico (n = 5). Sexual health was the most studied health issue (n = 11). Sexual minority women were at elevated risk for sexually transmitted infections related to low use of barrier contraceptive methods during sexual encounters with men. Findings suggest that sexual minority women are generally distrustful of healthcare providers and view the healthcare system as heteronormative. Providers are believed to lack the knowledge and skills to provide culturally competent care to sexual minority women. Sexual minority women generally reported low levels of sexual health education and reluctance in seeking preventive screenings due to fear of mistreatment from healthcare providers. Sexual minority women also reported higher rates of poor mental health, disordered eating, and substance use (current tobacco and alcohol use) than heterosexual women. Gender-based violence was identified as a significant concern for sexual minority women in LAC.
CONCLUSIONS : Significant knowledge gaps regarding sexual minority women's health in LAC were identified. Additional investigation of understudied areas where health disparities have been observed in other global regions is needed. Future research should explore how the unique social stressors sexual minority women experience impact their health. Nurses and other healthcare providers in the region need training in providing culturally appropriate care for this population.

Keywords

Latin America and the Caribbean, health disparities,Sexual minority women,Women’s health,