New Report Looks At First Year of Required Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Reporting by US Health Centers

BOSTON, June 26, 2019—A new report out of The Fenway Institute takes a look at the performance of US health centers during the first year of required sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) data reporting. The paper, titled Required Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Reporting by US Health Centers: First-Year Data, was co-authored by Fenway Institute staff members Chris Grasso, MPH; Hilary Goldhammer, SM; Danielle Funk, MA; Dana King, ALM; Sari L. Reisner, ScD; Kenneth H. Mayer, MD; and Alex S. Keuroghlian MD, MPH.

The purpose of the required SOGI data reporting is to estimate the baseline proportion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender patients accessing health centers. The report looked at SOGI data collected in 2016 from 1,367 US health centers caring for 25,860,296 patients in the United States and territories.

According to the report’s findings, SOGI data were missing for 77.1% and 62.8% of patients, respectively. Among patients with data, 3.7% identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or something else; 0.4% identified as transgender male or female; 27.5% did not disclose their sexual orientation; and 9.3% did not disclose their gender identity.

“Many LGBT people remain largely invisible in health care settings and consequently, experience health inequities and disparities,” said Chris Grasso, Associate Vice President for Informatics and Data Services at the Fenway Institute. “Collecting SOGI data on patients is critical for health care organizations to provide a welcoming, inclusive environment and allow a better understanding of their LGBTQ patients’ needs. Routine SOGI data collection in EHR’s can be used to measure and track health outcomes at both the individual and population level.”

Although health centers had a high percentage of missing SOGI data in the first year of reporting, among those with data, the percentages of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people were similar to national estimates, and disclosure was more than 70%. Future data collection efforts would benefit from increased training for health centers and improved messaging on the clinical benefits of SOGI data collection and reporting.

“This study from the first year of required SOGI data collection at US health centers indicates that the prospect of future SOGI data collection nationally is promising,” said Alex Keuroghlian, Director of Education and Training Programs at The Fenway Institute. “With appropriate training and technical assistance, health centers are capable of collecting SOGI data from patients through sensitive, effective communication, and by leveraging electronic health records tailored to enter and utilize this patient information, which we know is critical for health care.”

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