In 2011, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released the most comprehensive report to date on LGBT health, focusing heavily on the lack of adequate research and health data on LGBT populations. This month, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued a progress report that surveyed what federally-supported LGBT health research has been done and what still needs to be done.
A number of areas were given as needing attention including addressing methodological issues (how to study LGBT health effectively), improving the cultural competency of health providers/researchers and increasing communication between the NIH and those doing LGBT research and the other federal agencies.
The full report can be found here, but overall it is an impressive work that represents a great dedication to improving research on LGBT health as well as more personal care. This is particularly clear because the director of the NIH, Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., himself issued a statement earlier today regarding the publication, which reflects the NIH’s dedication even at the highest level. As Doctor Collins alludes to in his statement, the NIH has created a plan and seems to be looking at this as an opportunity to increase research in the field of LGBTI health in general and in specific populations, as affected by other traits.
Along with the potential research opportunities cited in their plan, the NIH reports support for new workshops and plans for further outreach opportunities.
There is much, much more to be done going forward to build a stronger foundation for improving the health of LGBT individuals, families, and communities. The new NIH report helps point the way toward those next steps.