Researchers at the Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS), run jointly by Brighton and Sussex universities, are advising doctors to display rainbow posters and other visual messages in waiting rooms to encourage gay and bisexual patients to come out.
More than one in 20 of the population identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), and there is good evidence that their health care and some health outcomes are inferior to those of heterosexuals - including mental health problems, diabetes and substance abuse.
This is backed up by research from a consortium including the University of Brighton which uncovered inequalities, barriers and discrimination faced by LGBTI people when accessing health services.
The BSMS research said knowing and understanding patients' sexual orientation was essential for providing optimum health care, but there is also evidence that many barriers exist to disclosure.
BSMS researchers Hannah Brooks and Dr Carrie Llewellyn and colleagues have reviewed the international literature on this topic, analysing more than 30 research studies involving almost 2,500 patients.