The Composition of Support Groups in the LGBT Community – Input from Consumers
Laura C. Hein PhD, RN, APRN Associate Professor of Nursing (PI)
Kathleen M. Scharer PhD, RN, PMHCNS-BC, FAAN Distinguished Professor of Nursing (Co-I)
There is little guidance on the optimal composition of support-groups in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community, or if family/family-members-of-choice (FMOC) can play any role in a support group. The objective of this study was to: (1) determine if groups of mixed LGBT orientations are as acceptable as groups of just one orientation/ gender identity; and (2) determine the acceptability/feasibility of involving a participant-selected family member/FMOC in a support group.
The researchers met with community leaders in the planning stages of the study to discuss the study idea, obtain their input, enlist their collaboration and to discuss rental of space in the LGBT Community Center (perceived as convenient and safe) for data collection. Community gatekeepers enthusiastically assisted with recruiting their constituents. Five focus groups were conducted with LGBT adults, one group for each sexual orientation/ gender identity plus one mixed orientation group. This study was IRB approved.
Bisexual and transgendered groups expressed willingness to participate in groups with any LGBT sexual orientation/ gender identity. Lesbians strongly preferred support groups with other women. Gay men preferred groups with other gay men or with women, feeling women had been a good source of support in the past.
All groups were favorable about including a FMOC however, inclusion of a biological family was considered neither acceptable, nor feasible. Participants advised the FMOC group should be conducted as a separate group, at a different day or time from the LGBT support group to prevent an LGBT participant without an FMOC from embarrassment.
Funding was received from the USC Office of the Provost – Clinical Incentive Grant.