Editorial: LGBT health issues and nursing

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In March 2011, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released an important new report on "The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding" (IOM, Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health Issues and Research Gaps and Opportunities, 2011). The report focused on current evidence of LGBT health disparities, gaps in knowledge, and steps to be taken to enhance research on LGBT health. The IOM had convened an expert panel at the request of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to assess the state of the science on LGBT health, identify research gaps and opportunities related to LGBT health, outline a research agenda to assist NIH in enhancing research efforts in this area, and to consider research training needs to advance knowledge related to LGBT health. The report identified significant gaps in data as well as the need for greater evidence on the health issues facing Lesbians, gay men, and transgendered people as distinct populations. The reports' findings that there is insufficient research on LGBT health are not surprising. What is most significant is that the report came from the IOM—an organization with considerable stature, and a record of rigorous review of its findings and recommendations—and that it was developed at the behest of the NIH with a goal of advising it on advancing research in this area. These and other developments represent important steps toward recognizing that LGBT health and health care are mainstream concerns, requiring the attention of every health professional, institution, and agency—rather than "marginal" concerns that pertain only to a limited group of providers or services. These developments are also an important wake-up call to the nursing profession to take up the issues of LGBT health and health care in a consistent and visible manner. I also recognize a need for this journal to address policy issues related to LGBT health. This is a gap I would welcome assistance in filling, and we plan to issue a call for papers shortly. The nursing profession has tremendous contributions to make toward improving the evidence base for LGBT health, spearheading interventions designed to reduce disparities, and increasing patient-centered, culturally appropriate care for all individuals. The current heightened prominence of LGBT health, health care, and health research poses a challenge to the nursing profession to give these issues the focus they require. The time to rise to that challenge is now. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

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  • David M. Keepnews

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