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SIU Medicine conducting rural health study focused on LGBTQ individuals

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According to research from the National Institutes for Health, members of the LGBTQ community
seek care less often due to a variety of socioeconomic factors, discrimination or simply because of fear
or feeling not accepted by the medical community.

Patients in these communities typically participate in fewer preventive health care measures, like
regular doctor appointments, and are at higher risk for mental health concerns.

SIU Medicine Department of Population Science and Policy is leading a study to identify the health
challenges related to sexual and gender identity for people living in central and southern Illinois. The
research will help to pinpoint health risks and barriers for LGBTQIA+ individuals and may foster methods
to address these challenges.

The study entails three online surveys and an interview via phone or videoconference over six months.
More information is available at Facebook.com/RuralHarmony. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois is
funding the project.

“There is a concerning lack of research about the rural LGBTQIA+ population in the United States,” said
the study’s principal investigator, Wiley D. Jenkins, PhD, MPH. “We hope this survey provides important
information on how to best address hurdles for individuals who identify as a sexual and/or gender
minority. Better data will lead to more effective solutions to improve health outcomes.”

To help alleviate the challenges often faced by those in the LGBTQIA community, SIU Medicine’s Center
for Family Medicine in Springfield has established a Gender Equity and Transgender Clinic to serve
patients in central Illinois. Led by Careyana Brenham, MD, and Priyanka Bhandari, MD, the
multidisciplinary team offers comprehensive care and referrals to other SIU specialists. For more
information, visit SIU-Center-Family-Medicine or call 217-545-8000.

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