Today, a report on LGBT health called “groundbreaking” has been released by the Institutes of Medicine, “The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding,” concluding:
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals have unique health experiences and needs, but as a nation, we do not know exactly what these experiences and needs are. 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 sexual and gender minorities in research. Building a more solid evidence base for LGBT health concerns will not only benefit LGBT individuals, but also add to the repository of health information we have that pertains to all people.
The report’s recommendations issued are: (1) NIH should implement a research agenda designed to advance knowledge and understanding of LGBT health; (2) data on sexual orientation and gender identity should be collected in federally funded surveys administered by the Department of Health and Human Services and in other relevant federally funded surveys; (3) data on sexual orientation and gender identity should be collected in electronic health records; (4) NIH should support the development and standardization of sexual orientation and gender identity measures; (5) NIH should support methodological research that relates to LGBT health; and (6) a comprehensive research training approach should be created to strengthen LGBT health research at NIH; and (7) NIH should encourage grant applicants to address explicitly the inclusion or exclusion of sexual and gender minorities in their samples.
As National LGBT Cancer Network executive director Liz Margolies writes in an opinion piece in today’s Metro Weekly “‘The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People’ is a truly groundbreaking document that brings together in one place the current state of all our knowledge about LGBT health issues, and makes recommendations for policies and procedures to improve our health. It is a historic commitment by the federal government and a document we can rely on.”
There will be much to come on this report from IOM, a part of the National Academy of Sciences. Already, Gary J. Gates, a scholar at the Williams Institute, said in a statement:
I applaud the IOM report’s clarion call for LGBT inclusion in federal data sources and within publicly-funded research. Let’s hope that federal statistical agencies charged with collecting data designed to measure the health and economic well-being of the American population will heed this call. Better data provides the building blocks for future research. The report’s acknowledgement of the diversity of the LGBT community is also impressive as it highlights the need for research that considers the unique challenges faced by the transgender community, LGBT youth and seniors, and LGBT people of color. This groundbreaking report should mark the beginning of a concerted effort by the federal government to better understand the lives of the 9 million LGBT Americans who have been too often marginalized by both society and the research community.
In a statement about the report, Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) — who has sponsored the Ending Health Disparities for LGBT Americans Act and been focused on addressing LGBT health concerns in her time in Congress — said, “For years, in Congressional hearings, briefings, and meetings, I have asked our national health policy officials and medical experts, ‘What do you know about LGBT health?’ Only to hear, ‘I have to get back to you.’ Today, we’ve gotten a well-researched and most welcome response. I am delighted that after years of advocating for more attention to LGBT health disparities, IOM’s report will bring us closer to the goal of promoting good health for all Americans.”
Read the LGBT Health Brief produced by IOM on the report: LGBTHealthBrief.pdf