Stony Brook LGBTQ+ Community Health Needs Survey Results
When it comes to health care, many people tend to resist the urge to see a doctor or arrange for routine medical checkups.
But for those who identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community, fear of telling the truth and/or not feeling comfortable enough to share personal information, especially in a medical setting, can add another layer of resistance and preventing proper care.
Now there are real numbers to back up what most people suspect about health care needs and concerns in Long Island’s LGBTQ+ community.
Stony Brook LGBTQ+ Community Health Needs Survey Results
To coincide with National Coming Out Day on October 11, Stony Brook Medicine (SBM) recently released the results of the 2021 Long Island LGBTQ+ Community Health Needs Survey it conducted in the summer of /fall 2021 with the support of over 30 community partners. , including the Suffolk County Health Department and the Suffolk County Human Rights Commission. Four years in the making, the results are sobering, even eye-opening, for the community in Suffolk and Nassau counties.
Of the 1,150 LGBTQ+ adults aged 18 and older who responded to the anonymous online survey: 43.6% rated themselves as having fair to poor mental health, 33.5% had thoughts of self-harm and 23 .9% had seriously considered suicide in the past three years. .
More than a third of people who took part in the study indicated that they suffered from moderate to severe anxiety and/or depression.
The survey further revealed that demographic groups, such as transgender, gender non-conforming, low-income respondents, young adults, blacks and Asians reported having an even higher prevalence of health conditions. behaviours, including intentional self-harm.
“The top three issues cited by survey respondents were access to behavioral health resources, training health care providers on LGBTQ+ health needs, and access to health insurance that meets the needs of LGBTQ+,” says Allison H. Eliscu, MD, Medical Director of Adolescent LGBTQ+ Care. Program at SBM, and principal investigator of the study. “Respondents also cited violence, bullying and harassment as critical issues facing the community.”
The survey results indicated that more than a third of respondents admitted to excessive alcohol consumption (two or more drinks per day on average), almost 15% to illicit drug use. Additionally, 25% of respondents said they did not have a primary care physician, 37% of respondents said they had been treated disrespectfully by a staff health care provider, and more than 46% of respondents reported preferring a telemedicine visit due to LGBTQ+ sensitivities.
The survey was open to LGBTQ+ adults, including those questioning their identity, who resided in Nassau or Suffolk counties or attended school on Long Island during the survey period (June-September 2021). What was clear from the results was that respondents were very committed to gender identity and how they choose to identify, using over 30 unique gender identity terms in the survey. study, as opposed to the expression of identity through sexual orientation.
“What surprised me was the differences within the LGBTQ+ community, that it’s not this monolithic community, that there are all these sub-groups…especially with young people – and the way which people identify with is so different,” says Robert S. Chaloner, executive director of Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, which together with SBM oversees the Edie Windsor Healthcare Center (EWHC) which provides LGBTQ+ health services in addition to HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention services.
“When I was young, you were gay or straight. It was basically that – there weren’t all these other terms; even getting the terminology right around transgender people is something pretty new,” says Chaloner “People who don’t fit traditional definitions seem to have a really hard time and that struck me. What’s also striking is when you layer race and ethnicity so whether you’re a black person or brunette, it makes things even more difficult.
What can be done to improve the health care environment and outcomes in the LGBTQ+ community?
“Bringing awareness, knowledge and sensitivity to everyone in the health field is crucial and something we work very hard on at Stony Brook Medicine,” says Eliscu. She points out that Stony Brook Medicine’s LGBTQ+ website is a great community resource, including a tab for teens to “know your rights” and one for seniors, as well as a tab called “Out and Proud,” a voluntary place that shows how you identify yourself. She adds, “You find (models) at all levels of Stony Brook University there.”
In response to the study, SBM is making a multi-faceted effort to address key findings that include clinical and support services – distributing a directory of SBM LGBTQ+ care providers, using data to support funding applications for expanded drug treatment and prevention services. and mental health services, expanded community outreach, training and research and additional services at EWHC.
In addition to operating as a monkeypox vaccination site in the East End, EWHC recently received a grant, along with community partner LI for Youth, to expand counseling services to LGBTQ+ youth. SBM also announced that the Edie Windsor Center will increase mental health counseling services with a licensed clinical social worker on site.
“I think what we need to do is create more environments like Edie Windsor where as soon as they walk through the door, people feel like they can be honest about their personal circumstances,” Chaloner says. “And it’s not just for the LGBTQ community – here there have been a lot of challenges for the Latino community, feeling welcome that we need to create healthcare environments where people can say, ‘ This is who I am, this is who I am, this is how I identify myself” and I feel safe saying that. If they can do it and we get some really good information, we can provide better health care.
To view the survey results on LGBTQ+ health needs and access a list of LGBTQ+ resources, visit stoneybrookmedicine.edu.
For LGBTQ SBM care, visit stonybrookmedicine.edu/LGBTQ.
For information on the Edie Windsor Health Centervisit southampton.stonybrookmedicine.edu/services/LGBTQ-and-HIV-healthcare.