Background: This study aimed to explore the attitudes of registered physiotherapists in Israel toward people identifying as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB) and to identify background characteristics associated with their attitudes toward LGB individuals.
Methods: This study employed an observational design and was conducted nationwide in Israel. The anonymous online questionnaire covered participants’ demographic characteristics (e.g., age, gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, and religiousness), two self-assessment questions regarding levels of homophobia (active engagement against LGB individuals) and heterosexism (holding negative opinions regarding LGB individuals), and the 22-item Hebrew version of the Attitudes Toward Homosexuality Scale (ATHS). Participants were recruited through professional organizations, social media, and word of mouth.
Results: The data of 383 registered physiotherapists practicing in Israel were analyzed. ATHS scores ranged between 32 and 110 (out of 110), with a median score of 106 and 41% scoring below the median. The median score regarding homophobia and heterosexism was one out of five. Logistic regression indicated that identifying as men, heterosexual orientation, and religiousness were significantly associated with less positive attitudes toward LGB individuals. Most participants received considerably limited formal education regarding the specific needs of sexual minorities.
Conclusions: Overall, physiotherapists in Israel demonstrated favorable attitudes toward LGB individuals, as reflected both by ATHS scores and their levels of homophobia and heterosexism. The current results highlight the need to update the physiotherapy curriculum to include information regarding sexual orientation and its effect on the mental and physical health of the LGB community.