Groundbreaking report features deVries, Ryan research

April 7 , 2011 -- A new report from the Institute of Medicine looks at how to improve the health of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals in the United States, outlining an agenda to guide the nation's research priorities. Two SF State faculty members, Brian deVries and Caitlin Ryan are among the report's 17 authors.

A picture of the study cover page

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) convened a 17-member committee to conduct a review of the current state of LGBT health, identify gaps in research and outline a research agenda to close those gaps. 

"This report establishes the scientific importance of LGBT health," said Caitlin Ryan, director of the Family Acceptance Project, who served on the IOM committee. "It will change the way that LGBT issues are addressed in research, professional training and clinical practice, and provides a roadmap to reduce health disparities for LGBT people from childhood through later years."

The report recommended that federally funded surveys should proactively collect data on sexual orientation and gender identity, just as they routinely gather information on race and ethnicity. It noted that the NIH should provide training opportunities in conducting research with LGBT communities and include researchers who do not specifically study LGBT health issues. In addition, the report suggested that the NIH support the development of standardized measures of sexual orientation and gender identity for use in federal surveys and other means of data collection.

"In health care and other settings, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, patients often fear and experience stigma and discrimination," said Brian deVries, professor of gerontology, who also served on the IOM committee. "These types of experiences contribute to stress and other factors associated with the unique physical and psychological health care needs of these populations." He said that the report provides a framework for new research that needs to be explored.

"The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding," was issued by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (IOM) and sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Established by the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine employs the services of eminent members of appropriate professions to examine national policy matters pertaining to public health and to identify issues of medical care, research and education.

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-- Denize Springer