A Human Library Intervention to Address Bias Towards LGBTQ Individuals

Student Researcher:
Michelle Anderson

Primary Author:
Derek Fehr

Faculty Supervisor:
Dr. Helly Goez

Additional Authors:
Derek Fehr
Dr. Tracey Hillier
Dr. Lia Daniels
Dr. Vijay Daniels
Dr. Hollis Lai
Dr. Joanne Rodger

MD Class of 2021


Health disparities amongst the LGBTQ population have been linked to implicit and explicit physician bias. Providing medical students the opportunity for direct communication with LGBTQ individuals is correlated with positive attitudes and reduced bias. This project addressed LGBTQ competency training by using a human library session to increase awareness of and address bias.

A literature review and curriculum map was conducted to identify gaps in LGBTQ health training within our program. We identified 7 competencies which related to physician bias and health disparities. A working group of LGBTQ community members, educators and health professionals selected the human library approach to address these competencies. Over 50 local LGBTQ individuals were recruited through social media and community organizations to facilitate a half-day human library session. They each discussed their personal experiences of stigma and discrimination with groups of 2-3 medical students. All 2nd year medical students participated and wrote a reflection essay afterwards using the utility-value framework to make it applicable to their own lives and future career. Thematic analysis of these essays was done to assess student’s achievement of competencies.

Analysis of results showed students achieved many of the target competencies, including understanding the need for safe healthcare environments, the value of inclusive language, and the impact of stigma on health disparities. This innovative curricular approach aimed at decreasing bias and discrimination towards a minority group demonstrates the value of working with community stakeholders in creating competencies related to understanding diversity in the provision of health care.