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Why Collect Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Data

Numerous authoritative sources call for the routine collection of sexual orientation and gender identity data in clinical settings:

  • The 2011 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report on LGBT health recommends the collection of sexual orientation and gender identity data in EHRs and notes that questions should be standardized to allow for the comparison and pooling of data to analyze the unique health needs of LGBT people.(3)
  • The 2012 IOM report on electronic SO/GI data collection in clinical settings supports the routine collection of structured SO/GI data in EHRs.(4)
  • Healthy People 2020 calls on clinicians to gather SO/GI data.(5)
  • Gathering SO/GI data in clinical settings is consistent with efforts of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to gather health data on LGBT populations as authorized under Section 4302 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).(6)
  • The Joint Commission’s 2010 report, Advancing Effective Communication, Cultural Competence, and Patient- and Family-Centered Care: A Roadmap for Hospitals, encourages the collection of patient SO/GI data.(7)
  • The Joint Commission’s 2011 report, Advancing Effective Communication, Cultural Competence, and Patient- and Family-Centered Care for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Community: A Field Guide, provides detailed suggestions for how to ask about sexual orientation and gender identity in clinical settings.(8)

The rational for collecting these data is similar to that regarding importance of gathering race and ethnicity data. According to the Joint Commission:

Hospitals must collect patient-level demographic data on race and ethnicity to identify the needs of individual patients and to eliminate disparities in the patient population. These critical data provide hospitals with information on the potential cultural needs of each patient, as well as an opportunity to monitor and analyze health disparities at the population level.(9)

These reasons are equally important with regard to sexual orientation and gender identity data.

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