Your Voice Your Health

A University of Chicago study is looking to improve health care experiences and outcomes for LGBTQ people of color by collecting stories — and advice — from members of the community.

“Your Voice! Your Health!” is recruiting subjects to participate in interviews and focus groups “to engage and empower” LGBTQ people of color within healthcare settings.

The conversations and discussions are being conducted by Morten Group, a consulting firm for foundations and non-profits run by LGBTQ community powerhouse Mary Morten.

Participants’ stories will be used to enhance the knowledge base for health in LGBTQ communities of color and to build tools for training healthcare professionals, with the goal of improving care, said Lisa Gilmore, project manager with the Morten Group.

“The whole name, the whole thing is that we need to hear the voices of LGBTQ people of color,” Gilmore says. “It’s important for so many people’s voices to be heard to make this research spot-on and change the experience that people have had.”

“The more voices we hear, the better the result of this research will be.”

Studies have shown that in general within LGBTQ communities of color, people are less likely to have health insurance and more likely to delay medical care, screenings or medication. In an LGBTQ community needs assessment conducted by Morten Group in 2011, health care was the number one expressed concern.

Study organizers plan to share their findings both within the medical community and with the LGBTQ community through town hall meetings and open discussions, Gilmore says.

There are 10 different “Your Voice! Your Health!” substudies organized around a variety of health-related topics, including intimate partner violence, obesity, aging issues, gender transition and primary care, anal cancer and mental health. Participants in each substudy are asked to talk about not just their experience with the topic, but their experience with healthcare professionals in relation to the topic, Gilmore said.

Participants will be compensated for their time, and each person can be involved in up to three studies that they’re eligible for. The goal is to have 500 unique interactions to gather data.

Gilmore says the people who have been in interviews and discussions so far have described the experience as “a give and take.”

“People have said it’s important to be participating to make a difference for the community in the future, to improve quality of care,” she says. And “folks have found that they feel like it was positive for them to participate because they heard something new for themselves or thought about something new in terms of their healthcare.”

The three-year project is funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and led by Dr. Marshall Chin.

For more information about participating in the study:
Call: (773) 442-2591
Or sign up online by completing this brief survey:

(Top photo, from left: Mary Morten, Dr. Elbert Huang, Vanessa Smith, executive director of South Side Help Center, Drs. Marshall Chin and Moira McNulty; Side photo, from left: Lisa Gilmore and Mary Morten.)

Karen Hawkins is the Founder and Rebelle in Chief of Rebellious Magazine. She is a recovering mainstream media reporter and editor who wants to thank her former boss for naming the online magazine she's...

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