2011-03-18

IOM Committee report urges LGBT data collection, recommends objectives for tracking LGBT health

The recently released Institute of Medicine (IOM) Committee on Leading Health Indicators Report has developed and recommended a set of 12 leading health indicators and 24 related objectives for Healthy People 2020 (HP2020). The objectives recommended were selected from drawn from across the many existing HP2020 topic areas (N=42) and objectives (N=1,412 and growing). See the HP2020 website for a list of all topic areas and the objectives that have been developed for most of the areas.

As part of this effort, the Committee suggested objectives for the LGBT topic area—an area which to date has not yet been populated with objectives. The Committee suggested that its 24 leading health objectives for the general population are relevant to all people, but went on to say that "there are particular disparities in many of the underlying indicators that are related to LGBT populations" (p. 42). The Committee suggested that 10 of these objectives be modified to specifically track the health of LGBTs and that these 10 objectives be included in the new LGBT topic area. The 10 modified objectives are:

  • Increase the educational achievement of lesbians, gay men, and bisexual and transgender adolescents and young adults (Adolescent Health)
  • Increase the proportion of lesbians, gay men, and bisexual and transgender persons with health insurance (Access to Health Services)
  • Increase the proportion of lesbians and transgender persons with a usual primary care provider (Access to Health Services)
  • Increase the proportion of condom use among gay or bisexual males aged 15 and above who are sexually active with other men or women (HIV)
  • Reduce the proportion of gay, bisexual or questioning males and females aged 12 to 17 years who experience major depressive episodes (MDEs) (Mental Health and Mental Disorders)
  • Reduce the proportion of lesbian, gay men, bisexual, and transgender persons aged 18 years and older who experience major depressive episodes (MDEs) (Mental Health and Mental Disorders)
  • Reduce the proportion of lesbian and bisexual female adolescents who are considered obese (Nutrition and Weight Status)
  • Reduce the proportion of lesbians', gay males', bisexuals', and transgender persons' past-month use of illicit drugs (Substance Abuse)
  • Reduce the proportion of lesbian, gay males, and bisexual persons engaging in binge drinking of alcoholic beverages (Substance Abuse)
  • Reduce tobacco use by lesbian, gay men, and transgender adults (Tobacco Use)

The Committee made note of the data challenges in monitoring LGBT health and made this recommendation: “the committee believes HHS should focus on improving and developing datasets that will facilitate analysis of disparities in LGBT health, thereby leading to action that can improve the quality of life and well-being for LGBT populations” (p.43).

The report is a remarkable step forward in inclusion of LGBT health priorities at the federal level. The Committee's endorsement of 10 of the 24 leading health objectives as particularly relevant for LGBT populations and its endorsement of the value of LGBT data collection are important markers of the progress in federal recognition of LGBT health and health disparities. The forthcoming IOM report on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Health Issues and Research Gaps and Opportunities, due out soon, will mark another major step forward in the field.