Back in June we circulated a quote from the Deputy Director at National Institutes of Health, Dr. Tabak, about their new LGBT health research priorities (see the picture). We knew these priorities were the result of their ongoing work responding to the Institute of Medicine report on LGBT health they commissioned earlier. Today we now see the full scale of the work NIH has been doing to respond to the specific recommendations laid out by the IOM. Make no mistake, this is a milestone in LGBT health.
We’ll be doing a deeper analysis of this report in time, but today as the report is first released I want to just highlight a few of the biggest takeaways.
1. There are many substantive issues to be pleased about. The report provides insight and plans around a large number of important areas. As just a few examples: there’s a strong call for more data collection, a smart analysis of the need for and best strategies for career development resources, and an emphasis on specific underserved populations such as transgender people, among others.
2. The lack of tobacco research is highlighted. In the year of LGBT research they analyzed, only 1.4% of the portfolio addressed smoking and health. This is a decided contrast to the mounting evidence that smoking is likely to be our top health burden as a set of communities. To quote the first paragraph of the summary of findings, from the very first page of the report: “There appears to be relatively little research in several key health areas for LGBT populations including the impact of smoking on health, depression, suicide, cancer, aging, obesity, and alcoholism.”
3. It is very gratifying that this report is getting top flight attention at NIH. White papers without leadership support can collect dust very fast. It’s excellent to see that this report was released with a preface by the head of NIH, Dr. Frances Collins. This sends a signal internally and externally that this report is not to be ignored.
Great job NIH!
Read the official Fenway response here. And read all of NIH’s releases today at the links below.
- Dr. Collins’ statement on opportunities for advancing LGBT health research: http://www.nih.gov/about/director/01032013_lgbt_statement.htm
- Plans for advancing LGBT health research: http://www.nih.gov/about/director/01032013_lgbt_plan.htm
- Consideration of the IOM Report on the Health of LGTB Individuals: http://report.nih.gov/FileLink.aspx?rid=856