Technology has once again come to the rescue, as an Apple app will have UCSF researchers to begin the first extensive study on the LGBT community. Collecting so much unique data on a minority community was something approaching the impossible in the past.
Researchers are interested in information about a large spectrum of issues within the gay and lesbian community – physical, social and mental – with the purpose of creating strategies that can help them.
Creators of the PRIDE study – an acronym for “Population Research in Identity and Disparities for Equality” – are hoping that thousands of participants will agree to sign up, making it easier to identify the common issues that will appear among various communities.
One of the most important tools the study has got up and running is the iPhone app, where participants can sign in. For those unable to get the app, the study also has a direct internet website, www.pridestudy.org that does the same thing.
One of the study’s leading authors, Dr. Mitchell Lunn, a UCSF nephrologist, expressed his hope that with the help of tens of thousands of people that will sign up, researchers will be able to follow the LGBT community for several decades. What interests them is to know exactly what are the mental or physical effects of identifying as a sexual or gender minority.
Because this particular minority community has experienced a severe lack of trust in the medical field, such a massive data collection was nearly impossible in the past – which meant that research and treatment for the first years of the AIDS epidemic followed an incredibly slow rate of development.
Discrimination might be one of the reasons why the LGBT community has been reluctant of taking part in medical studies; another is a fear that their issues will not be treated seriously if they come forward, says UCSF gynecologist and obstetrician Dr. Juno Obedin-Maliver, another co-author on the study.
The PRIDE study intends to identify these issues and find ways to address them; some of the increased health problems across the community are depression, suicide and increased rates of smoking. Besides the already-known matters that still need attention, the study hopes to uncover new ways the community might need help.
Obedin-Maliver encourages people to sign up, assuring them it will make a difference; the more participants, the easier to identify the specific issues that appear in each category of sexual minorities and also overall. Questions that will be part of the research are specifically designed to answer the possible health and mental problems that come with being part of one of these minorities.
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