CASE STUDY: My obese gay patient just told me he is a Bear.

Jun 11, 2021 | Barriers to Health Care, Blog, Communication Skills for Doctors, Equity Work, Health of Bears, Medical Education, Uncategorized

Talking with gay male patients about cardiovascular health

Issues in Practice

  • Bear-identified patients are mostly invisible subgroup of obese and hirsute MSM notable for their increased risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
  • These men have likely heard plenty of societal messages and health providers saying they are fat. 
  • Medical education about gay men is commonly limited to risk of HIV, STIs and substance use. 

Communication Pearls 

Based on his book Transforming Practice and almost 15 years of research and clinical experience, Dr. Greatheart recommends

  • Bears are a sub-group of gay men who are generally identified by their larger body size, and facial and body hair which connects them meaningfully to community and with sexual partners.
  • While weight loss may be a goal for some patients, consider instead addressing the sequelae of large body habitus as a strategy to build trust as a non-judgemental provider.
  • These men require all of the same age-related screening as non-queer patients.


Download the poster by Horacio Adala

Read blog posts related to Health of Bears

Share this post: