This study addresses the significance of the lesbian issue to the consultation with the GP, from the patients’ viewpoint. We gained insight into why disclosure of lesbian orientation is perceived to be important in different clinical settings. The vulnerability of the patient in this situation is illustrated, and we discovered indications of how to facilitate disclosure.
The present study was intended as exploratory, with only one group interview. Nonetheless, we gained valuable information. The group was quite homogeneous concerning education and interest in lesbian-related issues, but had a good range of ages and a common use of primary healthcare services. Our group can be regarded as representatives of a “best case scenario”; if these educated women with safe living conditions and a special awareness around lesbian issues think that disclosure is vulnerable and risky, so would less confident women as well. That the researchers belonged to the same subgroup is believed to have strengthened the group process, making the informants feel more comfortable, not having to explain ‘the basics’ about lesbian life.
From the existing research, we know that many lesbians think disclosure to healthcare professionals is important 
, but the rates of actual disclosure vary widely (18–90%) between studies 
. The reasons not to disclose include fear of a negative reaction or impaired healthcare, not being given the opportunity, being single, and perceiving it a private or not relevant 
. Signs of the doctor's attitude before disclosure and any reaction afterwards are most often monitored 
. Delay in seeking healthcare due to fear of negative reactions has been documented 
As lesbian and gay people may experience prejudice, many live hidden lives and are inaccessible to research. The consequences are of two kinds: first, we do not know the characteristics of the population “lesbian women”, and second, recruitment will always result in convenience samples. From this it follows that we cannot make general assumptions about all “lesbian women”, and we cannot compare “lesbian women” with “women in general” 
. Nevertheless, a number of papers do just that 
. Lesbian health research is dominated by North American studies 
, and a minor part of the research focuses on general practice. We do not know to what extent American findings are applicable to a North European primary care setting, due to both the significant differences in the organization and use of healthcare services, and the position of lesbian women in society.
Our study adds to previous knowledge by revealing the diverse reasons lesbian women might have for disclosure, and how lesbian patients themselves evaluate the importance of informing their GP of their lesbian orientation. We also gained insight into lesbian women's own advice to GPs on how to accommodate disclosure. Findings from previous studies have been elaborated, such as the extensive and ongoing considerations that precede disclosure, and how the assumption of heterosexuality can be difficult to counter during the consultation. Theories of heteronormativity 
offer an understanding of the pervasive and fundamental nature of the assumption that a heterosexual orientation is taken for granted in most situations. Medical professionals are no exception 
This study, although small, gives significant messages to GPs. Our findings demonstrate the importance of cultural sensitivity among our patients, of meeting every new patient with an open and accepting mind, and of being conscious of how language can make a difference.