With the exception of research related to HIV/AIDS, there has been a limited amount of Canadian academic research on LGBT health issues. LGBT health is still a relatively new area of research, and many important issues have not yet received enough focus to give us accurate information about the health care needs of LGBT people in Ontario.
This lack of information has created significant barriers for policy makers and health care providers who are trying to respond to the health needs of our communities. Canadian policy makers and organizations have had to rely on research data from the US, Europe and Australia, despite the differences between our communities and our health care systems.
Unfortunately, Canadian researchers interested in studying LGBT health issues are currently faced with limited funding opportunities as well as several challenging methodological issues, such as how to define, measure, and sample LGBT populations. Definitions and measures of LGBT people can be based on attraction, behaviour or identity and it can sometimes be difficult to recruit LGBT people who may not be comfortable disclosing their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Despite these challenges, researchers in Canada are increasingly recognising LGBT people as a distinct population that requires further study. There is an enormous need for representative, population-based data on LGBT people that can inform program development and public health policy.