Document Type


Original Publication Date


Journal/Book/Conference Title

American Psychiatric Nurses Association 2019 Annual Conference -


1st Place Education Award Winner

Date of Submission

October 2019




LGBTQIA+ patients experience devastating mental health and substance abuse disparities. While our organization has a broad non-discrimination statement that includes gender identity and sexual orientation, there is no guidance for how to best serve these patients. Evidence suggests training sessions are a successful means of increasing LGBTQIA+ cultural competency, with “Safe Zone” identified as being especially successful on college campuses. The Healthcare Equality Index also calls for education to demonstrate healthcare organizations’ commitment to LGBTQIA+ patients.


We developed an educational workshop - Safe Zone – with university psychologists. This workshop included interactive exercises that focused on increasing empathy and cultural humility.


A formal pilot was completed with inpatient psychiatric nurses. Results demonstrated increased comfort interacting with and advocating for LGBTQIA+ patients, as well as increased knowledge of health disparities and terminology. The workshop, along with pre-and post-education survey data, was presented to key stakeholders in the organization.


Safe Zone is now in the early stages of dissemination across the organization. This will give all staff the opportunity to increase their knowledge of LGBTQIA+ patients. We are consulting on clinical information changes happening within our organization. These include creating specific education bulletins to assist staff with asking patients about their LGBTQIA+ identity.

Future Implications:

We will examine if and how Safe Zone improves experiences for LGBTQIA+ patients. Safe Zone will inspire staff to advocate for their organization to be more inclusive of LGBTQIA+ patients. Education is one aspect of the Healthcare Equality Index, but also a critical step to creating an equitable LGBTQIA+ environment.

Is Part Of

VCU Health Nursing

Included in

Nursing Commons