How to Gather Data on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Clinical Settings

Published: January 17, 2012

Patients should be asked about how they self-identify as to their sexual orientation
and gender identity on intake forms. Questions should be included in the
demographic part of the form, alongside questions about race, sex, and date of
birth. Patients should also be assured that this information will be kept confidential,
and allows health care providers to provide them with the most relevant prevention
information and screen them for health conditions disproportionately affecting
members of their demographic group. Examples of such health conditions that
correlate with race, ethnic background, sex, or sexual orientation can be given,
such as sickle cell anemia, Taysach’s disease, or cervical cancer.

Fenway Health, a federally qualified health center in Boston, Massachusetts
has been testing two versions of a sexual orientation identity question as well
as a transgender identity question in 2011. The U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services (HHS) will field test a sexual identity question on the National
Health Interview Survey (NHIS) in early 2012. It is hoped that it will be added as
a standard question to NHIS in fall 2012. HHS is also conducting research on
how to measure gender identity and has committed to adding gender identity to
a battery of demographic questions alongside sexual orientation, age, sex, and
race/ethnicity, etc.

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