Researching LGBTI Health
Lacking a National Approach to LGBTI Health Research
Over the past decade there has been a steady increase in research around health issues that impact on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and other sexuality, sex and gender diverse (LGBTI) Australians. However, while there is a substantial body of knowledge around HIV/AIDS and gay men's sexual health, there is still a need for much greater research into the range of other health issues faced by LGBTI people. There is currently no routinely collected national or state wide population data to accurately reflect the proportion, and geographical concentration, of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity within the Australian population. An understanding as to whether LGBTI Australians are disproportionately affected by specific health issues can only at present be deduced from individual, often small, research studies which do not cover the population as a whole .
Why Research is Needed
The collection of more comprehensive data would assist in monitoring: trends in health and social wellbeing, health determinants and surveillance of health issues. It would provide irrefutable evidence about whether or not sexuality is itself a social determinant of health It would also be valuable in determining priorities for investment to improve the health and wellbeing of LGBTI people. One of the reasons given by Government for a failure to provide targeted investment in LGBTI health issues is that there is little research on the health needs of LGBTI people. However, there has been little commitment to funding such research in Australia, or at the very least mandating the inclusion of specific sexuality questions into broader studies which would allow specific analysis of differences with very few resource implications. Therefore in order for the health needs of LGBTI Australians to be properly addressed, it is imperative that greater commitment and support from all levels of government is given to LGBTI health research.
Addressing the Issue
There are a number of ways in which our understanding about the health and wellbeing of LGBTI Australians can be increased. They include:
- The inclusion of questions on sexual identity and gender identity in the Census, the National Health Survey and other official statistics data collection
- Making it a requirement that all future research into health conducted through NHMRC grants include specific questions on sexual identity and gender identity in the demographics of each project
- Funding from the Commonwealth into a one-off national LGBTI health research project to scope the health and service delivery needs of LGBTI Australians, in order to inform future planning of health programs and service delivery