Health4LGBTI is an EU-funded pilot project aimed at reducing health inequalities experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and intersex (LGBTI) people. There is substantial evidence demonstrating that LGBTI people experience significant health inequalities that have impact on their health outcomes. LGBTI people continue to experience stigma and discrimination combined with social isolation and limited understanding of their lives by others, leading to significant barriers in terms of accessing health and social care services. These experiences can translate into a risk of alcohol abuse, depression, suicide and self-harm, violence, substance misuse and HIV infection. Depression, anxiety, alcohol and substance misuse are more common in LGBTI people, with lesbian and bisexual women at particular risk of alcohol abuse.
The project found that health professionals assume that LGBTI people do not face discrimination in accessing healthcare services and some believe that LGBTI people were contributing to their own marginalisation. As well as the lack of knowledge and cultural competence on the part of health professionals, the research found evidence of heterosexism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and interphobia creating significant barriers to healthcare, aggravated by systems ill-equipped to deal with the complexities of gender identity along with laws and policies restricting access to healthcare for trans people in particular, with some even being refused appropriate medical services.
An integral focus of this team’s research is to look at how health inequalities of this kind can be reduced, for example by ensuring that health services are attuned through appropriate and mandatory training for staff and students across health systems.
In 2019, the Health4LGBTI team, including Professor Nigel Sheriff (PI), Dr Laetitia Zeeman, Dr Nick McGlynn and Alex Pollard won the University of Brighton Research and Enterprise Excellence Award for Outstanding Project.