Groups join in pioneering LGBTQ survey


The Daily Iowan; Photos by Josep

College of Public Health on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Aadit Tambe, [email protected]

One marginalized community is getting the opportunity to make its health needs known through a new survey.

One Iowa, the University of Iowa College of Public Health, the Iowa Cancer Consortium, and Des Moines University have partnered to learn more about the health status of the LGBTQ community in Iowa.

The organizations decided to conduct a survey because of insufficient information about the health of the population. The survey runs through Dec. 8.

Individuals who identify as LBGTQ can opt to take the survey, which is available on the Public Health College website.

The questions in the survey are mostly multiple choice, where participants are supposed to answer either yes or no. There are some that are open-ended, in which participants are asked if they have specific health concerns, said project Chair Paul Gilbert of the Public Health College.

Survey questions have been tailored to address the problems and risks faced by LGBTQ people.

In order to get a holistic view of the situation, the survey tries to understand the living conditions of LGBTQ people and to learn if they have faced cases of discrimination.

“This is the first comprehensive health survey of the LGBTQ community in Iowa to this extent,” Levi Lappin of the Iowa Cancer Consortium said in an email to The Daily Iowan. “Our survey here in Iowa was much inspired by Minnesota’s Rainbow Health Initiative’s Voices of Health survey.”

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There have been repeated findings in scientific research that there are high chances of risky behavior: smoking, substance abuse, and unprotected sex among the LGBTQ population, and this could be a problem, Gilbert said.

“There have been surveys of these sorts conducted [in states on either coast] — but not in the Midwest,” he said. “We want to know how true these findings are [if they are] in Iowa.”

“It would be wise to take [all conclusions drawn by scientific research] with a grain of salt simply because there are no consistent surveys being done with this community, going back to why we were inspired to begin this survey,” Lappin said.

LGBTQ people face a lot of barriers right from coming out to availing medical support, especially in small towns, which tend to be conservative, Gilbert said. Hence, it is important to address their needs, and a survey of this kind will help in identifying areas where work is needed.

“We know that people in the LGBTQ community experience a greater burden of cancer than other populations. This survey can help us understand why that is, how to address it, and ultimately how to make life better for Iowans,” Kelly Sittig, the executive director of the Iowa Cancer Consortium, said in an email to The Daily Iowan.

“The survey began in June, and has been running for five months now,” Gilbert said. “We plan to analyze the data collected over the winter and unveil it at the 2018 Iowa Governor’s Public Health Conference. In the summer, we would be looking at writing the findings for a scientific journal.”

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