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UPMC Offers Free Online Support Group for LGBTQ+ Community

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PITTSBURGHUPMC is partnering with Smart Patients, a free online peer-to-peer support forum for patients, to make it easier for members of the LGBTQ+ community to learn from each other, and about their own health.


“UPMC understands that people use a wide variety of ways to obtain information and support about their health and health care,” said Kristen Eckstrand, M.D., Ph.D., Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital. “Online communities can be an important source of support, particularly if there is a valid historical distrust of the medical system. Through Smart Patients, we want to provide a safe, sustainable online community for LGBTQ+ individuals to seek information and support about their own health.”


“We are excited to work with UPMC to connect LGBTQ+ patients with our safe and supportive online communities," said Kevin Lawrence, chief executive officer of Smart Patients. “This forum is the first of its kind, and we aim to provide members of the LGBTQ+ community peace of mind and empowerment through social and emotional support, not to mention those practical tips patients learn through direct experience.”


UPMC worked with Smart Patients on the recruitment of new community members to the forum; provided assistance with the format and content to ensure the forum visibly reflects the experience of the LGBTQ+ community; and provided financial support.


Individuals over 18 years of age can join by sharing their email address to set up a free personal account, no matter what their insurance status. Once the account is confirmed, participants will have access to information and resources, and be able to participate in conversations with other members.


This is one of many initiatives UPMC is offering to support the LGBTQ+ community. UPMC also provides treatment and support for the health needs of LGBTQ+ patients of all ages, including the Gender and Sexual Development Program at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, the Transgender Member Services line and the Becoming a Trans Knowledgeable Provider Conference. To learn more, please visit our website at or email at


In August, seven UPMC hospitals were recognized as “Leaders in LGBTQ Healthcare Equality” by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the education arm of America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people. This annual survey scores health care facilities on policies and practices dedicated to the equitable treatment and inclusion of their LGBTQ patients, visitors and employees.