Date of Paper

5-2013

Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

Department

Social Work

First Advisor

Richa Dhanju

Abstract

LGBTQ populations are at a high risk to experience increased stress, due to a long history of oppressive circumstances (Alexander, 2002). Because increased stress levels raise the risk of experiencing a mental and physical illness, those identifying as LGBTQ are particularly more vulnerable to experiencing symptoms of illness (Johnson, 2007; Meyer, Dietrich, & Schwartz, 2008). A review of the literature indicates that LGBTQ populations face barriers within mainstream health care services, such as knowledgeable providers and culturally sensitive care. Additionally, little or no research has been done to explore the role of holistic, integral health services for LGBTQ populations. The aim of this research is to explore the effects of providing LGBTQ populations with alternative health care services. Mixed methods were used in conducting this research: qualitative interviews with holistic practitioners who work with LGBTQ identifying clients and surveys filled out by people identifying as LGBTQ. Inductive grounded theory and statistical analysis were used to compile and analyze the findings. Results indicate that those identifying as LGBTQ are more likely to engage in alternative health care modalities than the general population. Furthermore, it was found that benefits of utilizing alternative health care services include: overall wellbeing, stress relief, increased energy, clarity, balance, self-awareness, and mental, physical and spiritual health, as well as education, a lesser need to use pharmaceuticals and an increased awareness of the mind-body connection. Additionally, the findings show that alternative health care meets the needs of those who feel alienated within the mainstream health care system by providing an accepting, open environment and individualized care. Further research must be conducted to assess the physiological effects of oppression and the long-term benefits of specific alternative health care modalities.

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