|Institute of Medicine LGBT Health Study Call Impacts TS Population|
|SciMed - Horizons|
|TS-Si News Service|
|Saturday, 02 April 2011 14:00|
Washington, DC, USA. A special committee of the influential Institute of Medicine (IOM) calls for attention to the specific health needs of groups often combined into a single LGBT entity for research and advocacy purposes.
The IOM cites difficulties when synthesizing data about the various groups combined under a single LGBT classification, since "studies and surveys use a variety of ways to define them". It recommends vigorous population profiling and health assessments that have direct relevance for addressing the health needs of both transsexual and transgender population groups.
The committee says the scarcity of research yields an incomplete picture of LGBT health status and needs, which is further fragmented by the tendency to treat sexual and gender minorities as a single homogeneous group. The report recommendations include a call for researchers to proactively engage lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in health studies and collect data on these populations to identify and better understand the unique health conditions that affect them.
The committee report provides a thorough compilation of what is known about the health of each of these groups at different stages of life and outlines an agenda for the research and data collection necessary to form a fuller understanding.
Robert Graham, the IOM committee chair, is professor of family medicine and public health sciences and Robert and Myfanwy Smith Chair, department of family medicine, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine (Cincinnati, Ohio). Graham says "It's easy to assume that because we are all humans, gender, race, or other characteristics of study participants shouldn't matter in health research, but they certainly do," an observation supported now by many years of research and clinical practice.
"It was only when researchers made deliberate efforts to engage women and racial and ethnic minorities in studies that we discovered differences in how some diseases occur in and affect specific populations." The removal of ideological bias has permitted a more evidence-based approach. "Routine collection of information on race and ethnicity has expanded our understanding of conditions that are more prevalent among various groups or that affect them differently."
"We should strive for attention to and engagement of sexual and gender minorities in health research."
"It is difficult to synthesize data about these groups when studies and surveys use a variety of ways to define them."
The overall goal is to build a more solid evidence base for health concerns that will go beyond the benefit to LGBT individuals and add to the repository of health information that pertains to all people.
The committee's general conclusion is that "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." This admisson of ignorance led to to the call for advancing the understanding of the health needs of all individuals and specific recommendations to collect more data on poulation demographics and improved methods for collecting and analyzing the data.
The committee made special note of the difficulties involved when trying to gain increased participation by sexual and gender minorities in research. As noted above, the members say the "National Institutes of Health (NIH) should support the development of standardized measures of sexual orientation and gender identity for use in federal surveys and other means of data collection".
ParticipationThe IOM Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health Issues and Research Gaps and Opportunities
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) was established in 1970 as the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), which was chartered under President Abraham Lincoln in 1863.
The NAS has since expanded into what is collectively known as the National Academies, which comprises the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the National Research Council, and the Institute of Medicine (IOM).
This new report was guided by the IOM Board on Health Sciences Policy and the Board on the Health of Select Populations. Members of the special committee were drawn from a pool of experts and advisors that covered a large number of overlapping disciplines.
Among the many and overlapping subject areas, the expertise encompassed biology, economics, education, ethnicity, gender, genetics, gynecology, healthcare, medicine, methodology, nursing, obstetrics, pediatrics, policy development, population studies, psychiatry, psychology, race, sexuality, training, and women's studies (listed here in alphabetical order).
FundingThe study was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
CitationThe Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding. Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health Issues and Research Gaps and Opportunities; Board on the Health of Select Populations; Institute of Medicine. The National Academies Press 2011. ISBN-10: 0-309-21061-5; ISBN-13: 978-0-309-21061-4
Download PDF (Report Brief & Contacts)
At a time when lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals— often referred to under the umbrella acronym LGBT—are becoming more visible in society and more socially acknowledged, clinicians and researchers are faced with incomplete information about their health status. While LGBT populations often are combined as a single entity for research and advocacy purposes, each is a distinct population group with its own specific health needs. Furthermore, the experiences of LGBT individuals are not uniform and are shaped by factors of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, geographical location, and age, any of which can have an effect on health-related concerns and needs.
While some research about the health of LGBT populations has been conducted, researchers still have a great deal to learn and face a number of challenges in understanding the health needs of LGBT populations. To help assess the state of the science, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) asked the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to assess current knowledge of the health status of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender populations; to identify research gaps and opportunities; and to outline a research agenda to help NIH focus its research in this area.
A committee of experts was convened by the IOM to consider this task, and its findings are presented in its report.
The IOM finds that 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.
|Last Updated on Saturday, 02 April 2011 13:19|