The AAMC Oct. 26 submitted a letter to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in response to its request for comments on its strategic plan to advance research on the health and well-being of sexual and gender minorities (SGM). The request for comments was published in the Oct. 1 Federal Register.
The AAMC recognizes health and health care disparities arise from conditions in which people are born, live, work, and age and is committed to increasing the capacity of its member institutions to create the evidence-base for solutions to these health and healthcare gaps. These gaps are persistent in certain groups, such as SGM, rural populations, racial/ethnic subgroups, the elderly, veterans, and individuals from lower socioeconomic status backgrounds.
Given the seeming intransigence of these inequities, AAMC applauds NIH’s and the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD)’s current efforts to develop not only a 10-year vision for the institute’s heath equity research, but also a targeted strategy to investigate and improve the health of SGM, specifically.
In its letter, the AAMC encourages NIH to continue to see input from diverse SGM communities and ensure that all relevant stakeholders have the opportunity to be engaged in the plan’s development. The AAMC also recommends NIH take the lead on developing and standardizing a well validated set of questions to be used in research for gathering sexual orientation and gender identity information. Other recommendations include conducting future research on the impact of cultural competence training programs and on the health impact of non-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) groups.
The association commends NIH for responding to the gaps identified in the 2011 Institute of Medicine report The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding, by providing resources and removing barriers for researchers to continue to understand the health needs of a community about which little is known.