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Researchers Win Data Contract To Study LGBTQ Health Disparities

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University of Maryland School of Public Health researchers won a competitive data contract to access the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) national healthcare consumer data to study LGBTQ disparities in access to healthcare. 

The research team, which includes Dr. Jessica Fish, Dr. Bradley O. Boekeloo, and Dr. Rodman Turpin, wrote their proposal with three aims in mind: 1) test sexual orientation and gender identity differences in healthcare access and experiences; 2) examine sexual orientation differences in mental and behavioral healthcare, including access and experiences; 3) estimate trends in healthcare access for sexual minorities, especially after the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. 

They were one of four groups whose research proposal was chosen for the data contract. 

“Up until this point, we’ve been very restricted in our access to data on healthcare access and experiences for LGBTQ individuals,” said Fish, who is an assistant professor of family science and a core research scientist in the UMD Prevention Research Center (UMD-PRC). This is one of the only datasets that specifically asks about their experiences in differences in care. “The level of detail here is kind of unprecedented.”

Fish and her colleagues have already begun to analyze the data, and are seeing significant discrepancies in healthcare experiences for LGBTQ individuals. 

Fish says the data is timely because of new religious exemption laws that allow healthcare organizations to opt-out of providing healthcare services if they object on religious or moral grounds. 

She says that this data can show LGBTQ individuals already have inequitable access to healthcare. 

“Data are really what you need to make a change and bring things into the public discourse,” Fish said.

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