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Patient Self-Advocacy

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:

  1. Be honest and open about your experience.
  2. Do your research and come prepared.
  3. Make your needs clear.
  4. Know your rights.
  5. Get the proper care for the body parts you have.
  6. Find safe providers and affirming clinics.
  7. Bring a trusted friend or family member.
  8. Don’t feel like you must stay with one provider.

Self-Advocacy Resources

Sharing Your Identity with Your Provider

The question “What is your sexual orientation and gender identity?” is personal, but the answer can provide key information to your healthcare provider. Each person’s health needs are unique and an honest conversation with your provider can help ensure you get the personalized care and resources you need. You may be nervous about sharing this personal information with a new provider but there are resources that can help make the conversation easier. You can bring up the topic in a way that’s most comfortable for you and remember, anything you tell your provider is confidential.

Find resources on how to be open with your provider and why it’s necessary below.

Suffolk County Government

H. Lee Dennison Bldg

100 Veterans Memorial Hwy
P.O. Box 6100
Hauppauge, NY 11788

Riverhead County Center

County Road 51
Riverhead, NY 11901