Researching for LGBTQ Health

About

We are a team of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, Two-Spirit, and queer (LGBTQ) and ally researchers who focus on understanding how LGBTQ people experience physical and emotional (mental) health, and how they access health services.

Our office is in the Health Systems and Health Equity Research Group of the Centre for Addiction & Mental Health in Toronto, but our work examines LGBTQ lives and experiences all over the province.

Our Research Approach

We use a community based research (CBR) approach, working in partnership with LGBTQ communities to answer questions that are important to them. CBR approaches to research attempt to address the power imbalances that are inherent in traditional research relationships, by involving members of the communities to be researched in all stages of the research process, from conceptualizing a research question through to analyzing and sharing the data. We are committed to combining our research work with action to create positive change for LGBTQ people.

Goals

  • To gather research data that helps us to understand the health, and particularly emotional health, of LGBTQ people.
  • To describe how experiences such as homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, racism, sexism and ableism impact the health of LGBTQ people.
  • To identify elements that help LGBTQ people to access health services, as well as those that prevent them from doing so.
  • To use what we learn from our research to improve the health, and particularly emotional health, of LGBTQ people.
  • To use our research results to improve the health services available to LGBTQ people.

Values

Social Justice and Anti-oppression

Our research looks at how oppression and privilege impact the communities we work with. We are concerned not only with oppression related to sexual orientation and gender identity, but also race, poverty, disability, and other markers of identity experienced by LGBTQ people. We are committed to using our results to create positive change with LGBTQ communities.

Working in partnership

We work with the communities that our research is about by forming partnerships with LGBTQ organizations and including LGBTQ people in all stages of our research, as well as on our project teams and advisory committees. We value the knowledge of academics, service providers, and lived experience such as being LGBTQ, being part of the consumer/survivor/mad community, having mental health or substance use issues, or being racialized. We also recognize that these categories overlap, and that many members of communities have both personal and professional experience that is relevant to our research questions.

We are committed to having a reciprocal relationship with LGBTQ communities. We want our partnerships to benefit everyone, including community members, service providers, and/or academic partners.

Accountability

We recognize the historical and contemporary oppression of LGBTQ communities by researchers and psychiatric institutions such as CAMH. In that context, we are committed to ethical research practices with our stakeholder communities. This includes respecting privacy and confidentiality. We also hold ourselves accountable to the LGBTQ communities more broadly, in terms of doing research that benefits these communities and is consistent with community values.

Holistic health

Our team operates from a ‘social determinants of health’ framework. This means that we appreciate that social factors, including structural and interpersonal discrimination and experiences of violence and/or trauma, have a major impact on the health of individuals and communities. We recognize that health includes the interrelation of the physical, mental and spiritual. We also acknowledge that there are many different definitions of health relevant to our communities, including culturally specific ways of describing and defining health.

Meaningful Health Care Choices

We believe that consumers of health care should have the opportunity to make meaningful choices about the nature of care they wish to receive. In the context of mental health care, this includes access to interventions such as counselling and trauma-informed care, as well as models of care apart from or complimentary to the biomedical model (including models of recovery and client-centred care).