What is self-advocacy in healthcare?
Patient self-advocacy is defined as being more confident and willing to question your healthcare provider and actively participate in your treatment and healthcare decision-making.15 Although this is one definition, patient self-advocacy is so much more. It’s about speaking up for yourself, making your own choices about your health, educating yourself about your needs, and communicating how you feel and your challenges to your provider.
Why is it important?
Although some people may feel uncomfortable speaking up for themselves, it is important to ensure your health needs are met. It may take some practice, but self-advocacy can help you retain or regain control of your life as you navigate the healthcare system.16 Research has shown that self-advocates are more likely to have higher expectations for care which can lead to improved health outcomes.17 Lastly, it can help your healthcare provider understand you better and empower you to get the support you need and deserve.
Tips on how to advocate for yourself as an LGBTQ+ person:
- Be honest and open about your experience.
- Do your research and come prepared.
- Make your needs clear.
- Know your rights.
- Get the proper care for the body parts you have.
- Find safe providers and affirming clinics.
- Bring a trusted friend or family member.
- Don’t feel like you must stay with one provider.