Boston Globe (01.07.12) - Thursday, January 19, 2012
The LGBT community in the United States experiences
significant health disparities, including many linked to
social stigmas. As a group, LGBT people are more likely to
experience violence; they have higher rates of psychiatric
disorders and substance abuse; and gay men are at higher risk
of some STDs.
The research institute of Boston-based Fenway Health, a
longtime provider of specialized LGBT care, recently published
two policy briefs to help providers address LGBT patients'
needs. The first details why information about patients'
sexual and gender identity should be gathered in clinical
settings; the second offers guidance on how to collect the
"In order to understand and address LGBT health disparities,
we as health care providers need to better understand who our
LGBT patients are," said Dr. Stephen Boswell, president of
"If LGBT patients are told why it is important to gather such
information, and that such information will be kept private
and confidential, most will be forthcoming," states the first
brief. The second offers pointers, such as having patients
complete a registration form that asks, "Do you think of
yourself as," with boxes to check indicating homosexual,
heterosexual, bisexual, something else, or uncertain. Another
suggestion is asking patients the open-ended question "Do you
have a partner?" rather than "Are you married?"
To access the briefs, visit: www.fenwayhealth.org/whygather