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Structural and life course determinants of LGBTQ+ health inequalities

A stethoscope with a rainbow ribbon on pink background.

Leveraging King’s data and expertise to enhance understanding and move into action.

This King’s Together project will support the development of a cross-Faculty multi-disciplinary large research grant on LGBTQ+ health inequalities. Combining methods, data, and insights from SSPP, Arts & Humanities, IoPPN, Florence Nightingale and FoLSM, alongside King’s College Hospital, the KCL Cultural Competency Unit, and Queer@King’s, this project aims to improve the health and lives of LGBTQ+ people and establish King’s as a global centre of research excellence in LGBTQ+ health equity.

As outlined in King’s Strategic Vision 2029, KCL’s ambition is to make the world a better place. At a time when LGBTQ+ rights are increasingly under threat in the UK and around the world, we see an urgent need to mobilise King’s expertise and data resources to achieve health equity for LGBTQ+ populations. This impactful research project will help King’s realise both its interdisciplinary research vision and objective to make a significant contribution to society.

This King’s Together project will support two key activities: 1) establishing new connections and accelerating collaboration between King’s staff working in the area of LGBTQ+ health; and 2) providing research assistance to scope suitable datasets, obtain data access, and conduct preliminary, descriptive statistics on sample sizes across groups and outcomes. These activities will culminate in a large external grant proposal on LGBTQ+ health inequalities.

LGBTQ+ people experience alarming health inequalities throughout their lives. They are more likely than heterosexual and/or cisgender people to experience depression and anxiety, over twice as likely to attempt suicide, and have higher rates of harmful health behaviours. They are also less likely to seek care for physical problems, more likely to seek mental health care, and have lower levels of satisfaction when accessing services.

Despite these stark inequalities, LGBTQ+ research has experienced persistent under-funding resulting in poor data and research infrastructure. Subsequently, we know very little about the structural and life-course determinants of poor LGBTQ+ health. Understanding the drivers of LGBTQ+ inequalities is imperative to planning evidence-based social and health-related policies and delivering effective interventions to improve the health of LGBTQ+ people.

King’s can address this gap in knowledge and action; we have extensive expertise in LGBTQ+ health, and host several health and social studies that have collected data on participants’ sexual orientation and/or gender identity. However, these existing datasets have not been analysed in relation to LGBTQ+ equity in large part because academics routinely work in siloed disciplines with limited opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration. This project aims to facilitate conversations and collaborations between these silos.