Why collect data on sexual orientation and gender identity?
Comprehensive health data on LGBTQ people is difficult to come by. That is because we have not historically collected and recorded this information in systematic and large-scale ways, therefore we have never fully understood how many LGBTQ individuals exist within our patient population and how well our clinical services may or may not be serving them.
Despite the lack of comprehensive data, we do know that LGBTQ people experience significant health disparities, or preventable differences in the burden of disease, injury, violence, or opportunities to achieve optimal health, across the course of their lives compared to their peers.
As public health workers, we know that data collection is fundamental to protecting and promoting the health of ALL San Franciscan's (The SFDPH Mission). Tracking and identifying the health disparities that our LGBTQ patients experience will allow us to better understand what our patients are lacking, what they need, and where WE are falling short. Lastly, the data can guide our policies, advocacy efforts, research goals, funding plans, and how we promote a healthy and safe environment for LGBTQ patients across the San Francisco Health Network.
Why San Francisco?
San Francisco’s LGBTQ population is much higher than that of California as a whole, and many of our patients, clients, and coworkers are LGBTQ.
San Francisco is an incredibly diverse and so is our patient population. Our clients are diverse in language, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, nationality, socioeconomic status. And our workforce, too, is diverse.
That diversity means that depending on what categories our patients fit in, their need for and ability to access health is different. That’s because of histories of discrimination due to racial categories and racial and economic segregation.
Couldn’t we just say, “Everyone gets the same care no matter what” and leave it at that? But why is it important to collect information about these attributes, characteristics? Would be great, but the truth is that everyone doesn’t get the same care. And everyone doesn’t have the same needs. Disparities are real.
SO/GI data is crucial to help us advance health equity (part of our True North and SFHN mission), help us provide better care for our patients. If we don’t know what’s happening in communities, how can we make change?
We are required to ask everyone
Patients/clients are not required to answer
All information is confidential and protected as part of health record
Information may be shared across the health network
Non-discrimination policy includes gender identity and sexual orientation
CORE SO/GI principles
HOW Will SO/GI data be used?
Here are some of the ways that data such as SO/GI information is used:
Used BOTH to provide better care to that individual patient – whether that’s making sure they get care in the right language, or identifying additional screenings or support or treatment they might need. We have to understand who our patients are to know what they need.
And it’s ALSO used to look at trends across populations, so that we can make changes to how we provide care overall (changes to policy, training, etc).
Provide more patient-centered care in patient’s preferred language
Develop cultural humility training for staff
Compare utilization of health services among different patients
Compare patient satisfaction with care provided among different patients
Target marketing materials to specific patient populations
Capture changes in demographic trends