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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Pittsburgh: Research Review Finds Scarcity of Scientific Studies on Interventions to Reduce Health Inequities in LGBTQ Youth

There is a dearth of scientifically investigated, evidence-based interventions to address substance use, mental health conditions and violence victimization in sexual and gender minority youth, according to a research review led by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and published in the journal Pediatrics.

After poring over thousands of research publications spanning nearly two decades, the scientists identified only nine studies that evaluated such interventions, and most of these used suboptimal study designs, thereby limiting the validity of the findings. None of the programs would be sufficient to mitigate the substantial inequities faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) youth, the scientists concluded.

“While this knowledge gap is distressing, I think we can look at it as an opportunity,” said lead author Dr. Robert W.S. Coulter, assistant professor in Pitt Public Health’s Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences. “Promising programs are being created by community-based organizations that are ripe for rigorous evaluation by scientists to determine if they are successfully improving health among LGBTQ youth and, if so, whether they can be replicated in other communities.”

Dr. Coulter noted that just because his team’s literature review didn’t find studies evaluating such programs, that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. It’s more likely that limited funding prompted organizers to put their resources into programming, with nothing left for scientific evaluation into whether the programs made a positive impact.

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