NIH: The Health of Sexual and Gender Minority Populations

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has issued a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) focused on sexual and gender minority (SGM) populations, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex populations.  Participating institutes and offices include: Cancer, Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Deafness and other Communication Disorders, Dental and Craniofacial, Mental Health, Minority Health and Health Disparities, and the Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research.

The FOA, The Health of Sexual and Gender Minority Populations (PA-15-261), responds to a March 2011 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People, that found that the “existing body of evidence is sparse and that substantial research is needed” (see Update, April 18, 2011).  The report described numerous extant research gaps. While acknowledging improvements, the FOA responds to the need for further research on the health of these populations. Recent data from national health surveys and targeted studies suggest that prevalence rates for some health conditions are higher among SGM populations than for the general population.

The FOA encourages research proposals that describe the biological, clinical, behavioral, and social processes that affect the health and development of SGM populations and individuals and their families, and that lead to the development of acceptable and appropriate health interventions and health service delivery methods that will enhance health and development of these populations.  It also encourages researchers to investigate new research questions related to the health and development of SGM populations and individuals and their families, and to develop and/or apply innovative methodologies to improve understanding of mechanisms affecting their health and development.

Four main types of research are emphasized in the FOA:

  1. Basic social and behavioral science research addressing the processes involved as individuals discover, uncover, address and/or adapt to their sexual orientation and claim or do not claim identity as SGM and how these processes affect the mental and physical health of the individual.
  2. Research leading to interventions to ameliorate health disparities in SGM populations.
  3. Large-scale design, implementation, and evaluation of preventive and/or treatment interventions addressing health issues in SGM populations.
  4. Research on how family structures and processes, including both families of origin and families of choice, affect the health of SGM individuals and their family members, including whether and how being raised in a family headed by SGM individuals affects the health, development, and well-being of the children.

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Posted in Issue 10 (June 2), Update, Volume 34 (2015)

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