NEW YORK — A new study from the journal LGBT Health recommends that patients’ sexual orientation and gender identity be included in electronic health records so risk factors and prevention measures can be discussed.
It pointed to a 2011 report from the Institute of Medicine that found limited health data available on LGBT patients, health disparities prevalent for such patients and decisions by major health care entities such as the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services and others not to include sexual orientation or gender identity (SOGI) in health records.
“There is overwhelming community support for the routine collection of SOGI data in clinical settings, as evidenced by comments jointly submitted by 145 leading LGBT and HIV/AIDS organizations in January 2013,” the abstract for the study reads. “Gathering SOGI data in (electronic health records) is supported by the 2011 (Institute of Medicine’s) report on LGBT health, Healthy People 2020, the Affordable Care Act and the Joint Commission. Data collection has long been central to the quality assurance process. Preventive health care from providers knowledgeable of their patients’ SOGI can lead to improved access, quality of care and outcomes. Medical and nursing schools should expand their attention to LGBT health issues so that all clinicians can appropriately care for LGBT patients.”
Among the health issues that disproportionately affect LGBT patients are prevalence of sexually transmitted infections and HIV (with 66 percent of new cases of HIV in the United States occurring in gay or bisexual men in 2010), and the high rates of behavioral health issues, including suicidal ideation and attempts, often related to stigma, discrimination, bullying and hate crimes, the study said.
Lesbians are more likely than straight and bi women to be overweight and obese, increasing their risk for cardiovascular disease, lipid abnormalities, glucose intolerance and morbidity related to inactivity, the study said. Lesbians and bisexual women experience cervical cancer at the same rate as heterosexual women but are much less likely to get routine Pap tests to screen for cervical cancer, the Institute of Medicine report found.