Earlier today, the influential Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a report entitled, The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Understanding later today. This critical report recommends steps to ensure that clinical researchers identify and address the specific needs of LGBT populations. The report was written in response to a request from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for guidance on researching LGBT health issues, given recent findings suggesting that certain characteristic such as gender and ethnicity matter when examining health disparities.
Despite the fact that independent researchers have conducted their own studies, since Stonewall and the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the IOM admits that researchers still have a great deal to learn, and that researchers face a number of challenges in understanding the health needs of LGBT populations. The main challenge is that most government health surveys do not collect demographic information on an individual’s sexual orientation and gender indenity, which leads to limited data collection on LGBT populations. Therefore, understanding the the very unique health concerns for LGBT individuals is paramount to providing adequate health prevention and treatment for our loved ones.
The Institute of Medicine Committee on LGBT Issues and Research Gaps and Opportunities is chaired by family medicine professor Robert Graham of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. He's joined by colleagues from John Hopkins University, Harvard, the University of Virginia, the University of Chicago and many other esteemed colleges and universities. The Committee’s key recommendation from the study states once again, “to advance understanding of the health needs of all LGBT individuals, researchers need more data about the demographics of these populations, improved methods for collecting and analyzing data, and an increased participation of [LGBT individuals] in research.”
This study will enable PFLAG National’s policy team to continue advocating for improved data collection methods, non-discrimination policies in the healthcare setting along with cultural competency trainings for medical providers to deliver the sensitive and appropriate care our LGBT loved ones deserve.
Learn more about PFLAG National’s work on addressing and overcoming specific LGBT health disparities.
Also, please be sure to check out our Straight for Equality in Healthcare Guide to learn ways healthcare providers can serve as allies to LGBT patients.