Heteronormativity and practitioner-patient interaction.


Heteronormativity is the presumption of heterosexuality as the default sexual orientation and can result in discrimination against the lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) population. This study serves as one of the first experimental studies to examine heteronormative perceptions in communication and their effects on practitioner-patient relationships. LGB participants were randomly assigned to read either heteronormative or non-heteronormative vignettes of a doctor-patient interaction. They then indicated how much health-relevant information they would disclose to the doctor in the vignette and their level of trust in the doctor. In the heteronormative condition, participants were less likely to disclose health-relevant information to the doctor in the vignette and were less trustful of the doctor as compared to those in the non-heteronormative condition. These results have important health implications, as lack of disclosure and trust may prevent people from getting needed care and prevent doctors from giving the best health advice possible. The results of this study provide further evidence that there is a need for more education for all health care professionals to feel comfortable while respectfully communicating with and treating patients who do not identify as heterosexual in order to ensure the best health care experience.






Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Utamsingh, Pooja Dushyant, Laura Smart Richman, Julie L Martin, Micah R Lattanner and Jeremy Ross Chaikind (2016). Heteronormativity and practitioner-patient interaction. Health Commun, 31(5). pp. 566–574. 10.1080/10410236.2014.979975 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/11794.

This is constructed from limited available data and may be imprecise. To cite this article, please review & use the official citation provided by the journal.



Laura Smart Richman

Adjunct Professor in the Department of Population Health Sciences

Dr. Richman's research broadly focuses on understanding factors that contribute to health disparities for disadvantaged groups. Some research areas include the role of social status, gentrification, and social network characteristics on health behaviors and outcomes. 

Click here for .pdf links to my publications

Areas of expertise: Health Behavior and Health Measurement

Unless otherwise indicated, scholarly articles published by Duke faculty members are made available here with a CC-BY-NC (Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial) license, as enabled by the Duke Open Access Policy. If you wish to use the materials in ways not already permitted under CC-BY-NC, please consult the copyright owner. Other materials are made available here through the author’s grant of a non-exclusive license to make their work openly accessible.