Today the Institute of Medicine released its long-awaited report, The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding. The report was commissioned by the National Institutes of Health and involved a year of distinguished experts evaluating the state of LGBT health research and making recommendations for improving the health of the LGBT community.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) is the nation's most prestigious organization that reviews research on health.  Established in 1970 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine provides independent, objective, evidence-based advice to policymakers, health professionals, the private sector, and the public.

The report concludes that researchers need to proactively engage LGBT people in health studies and collect data on these populations to identify and better understand health conditions that affect them.  The lack of research yields an incomplete picture of LGBT health status and needs. Furthermore the report highlights the need to recognize the differences between lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, and how these sexual and gender minority statuses interact with race, ethnicity, and culture.

The 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.  My own work on LGBT youth is cited frequently in the section on childhood and adolescence.

The press release includes quotation from the committee chair, Dr. Robert Graham, 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.  He said, "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.  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.  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 the same attention to and engagement of sexual and gender minorities in health research."

The report calls for further data collection on the LGBT population in large national studies of the health of Americans, further funding for LGBT health research, and training opportunities in conducting research with this population. In the coming weeks I look forward to reading the report in detail and sharing more of the findings and recommendations.

| Read Full Text of the Report |
| Download a summary of the report |

Dr. Mustanski is the Director of the IMPACT LGBT Health and Development Program . You can follow the Sexual Continuum blog by becoming a fan on Facebook.

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