LGBT Identity: Openness with Sexual Orientation Could Improve Health Care

First Posted: Aug 13, 2013 03:12 PM EDT

Many health records are still lacking information regarding sexual orientation and gender identity as some are uncomfortable or may feel unaccepted by their communities. Yet some researchers point out the possibilities of improved health care if medical records could have more detailed information.   

A new peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. publishers, discusses the advantages of having greater access to this kind of information in medical records.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, as many as four in 10 LGBT or (42 percent) say that they do not feel the community in which they live is accepting of LGBT people. LGBT youth are also twice as likely as their peers to say they have been physically assaulted, kicked or shoved at school, and statistics show that more than 73 percent say they are more honest about their sexual orientation or gender identify online than in the real world.

In the article "Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Data Collection in Clinical Settings and in Electronic Health Records: A Key to Ending LGBT Health Disparities," the authors of the paper discuss overwhelming support of collection of the SOGI information among LGBT advocacy groups and HIV/AIDS organizations, including the support for SOGI data collection in the Healthy People 2020 initiative, and the Obama administration's Affordable Care Act.  

"The Obama Administration has taken significant strides toward increasing LGBT data collection on health surveys," said Sean Cahill, PhD and Harvey J. Makadon, MD, of The Fenway Institute in Boston, Ma, via a press release. "Right now the federal government is considering whether to include SOGI as standard demographic questions in Stage 3 meaningful use guidelines, which set the standard for data collection in EHRs. We believe that including SOGI measures in these guidelines would dramatically increase our understanding of LGBT health disparities and our ability to address them."

"While there is no question about the benefits of collecting such data, some concern has been raised about the security of the EHR and potential misuses," said Editor-in-Chief, William Byne, MD, PhD, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY, via the release. "In addition to addressing how to best elicit the data, Cahill and Makadon also address such implementation concerns."

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