The Institute of Medicine has issued a report calling for more research into the health conditions and disparities affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.
IOM urges more research on LGBT health issues
“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,” said Dr. Robert Graham, professor of family medicine at the University of Cincinnati (Ohio), and chair of the IOM committee that produced the report. “We should strive for the same attention to and engagement of sexual and gender minorities in health research.”
A range of factors affect health status for LGBT individuals, including the classification until 1973 of homosexuality as a mental disorder, a designation that “shaped sexual-minority patients' interactions with the healthcare system,” the committee said in the report. Additionally, current legal barriers to same-sex marriage often affect access to group health insurance, and few medical providers have received the training needed to treat transgender patients in a sensitive and “culturally competent” manner, the committee said.
The committee urged the National Institutes of Health to ramp up efforts to engage LGBT individuals in research, and to provide training opportunities for clinicians and researchers. Information on sexual orientation and gender identity should also be included in patients' electronic health record, they said.
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