Two agencies of the National Institutes of Health are making research on lesbian, gay and bisexual issues a higher priority and they're asking for APA's help in attracting researchers.
APA's Committee on Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Concerns met in March with representatives from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to discuss ways to encourage more objective and unbiased mental health and substance abuse research in areas relevant to lesbian, gay and bisexual adults and adolescents. They're also promoting research on the social impact of such research.
"There are lots of stereotypes about this population and we need to replace the stereotypes with real knowledge," says Howard S. Kurtzman, PhD, a psychologist with the Behavioral Science Research Branch of the NIMH. "It's important to understand the distinctive strengths, risk factors and needs of sexual minority people."
Currently, NIMH receives few grant applications for lesbian, gay and bisexual concerns outside of HIV research. But NIMH is giving such studies more prominence. It is interested in funding quality research onlesbian, gay and bisexual concerns that looks at such topics as:
Personality and social development.
Family structure and function.
Prevalence and expression of mental disorders.
Development of appropriate counseling and therapeutic interventions.
Access to and use of mental health services.
One area NIMH is investigating is how victimization related to sexual orientation impacts adolescent mental health. The agency awarded a $2 million grant to psychologist Anthony D'Augelli, PhD, to conduct a longitudinal study of lesbian, gay and bisexual adolescents, ages 15 to 19. The study focuses on their experiences in school, with families and in community settings, whether they're victimized because of their sexual orientation or for other reasons and how this victimization impacts their mental health.
APA's Committee on Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Concerns also met in March with representatives from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
NIDA is sponsoring eight research projects on drug use and sexual risk behaviors among men who have same-gender sex. Each project addresses the link between drug use and high-risk sexual behaviors. The agency is also funding a research project on female intravenous drug users who have same-gender sex to determine whether these women are at increased risk for HIV. NIDA is spending about $4.5 million on these drug use and sexual risk behavior projects. Other NIDA research projects are looking at lesbian, gay and bisexual people as part of larger population studies, says Timothy P. Condon, PhD, associate director of NIDA.
NIDA is also interested in funding research on gay, lesbian and bisexual populations that studies:
Epidemiology and demographics.
Prevention approaches for lesbian, gay and bisexual populations.
Treatment approaches for gay, lesbian and bisexual populations.
Medical consequences of drug use and addiction for lesbian, gay and bisexual populations, particularly regarding transmission of infectious diseases such as HIV, AIDS and hepatitis C.
Condon and Kurtzman will be speaking at APA's Annual Convention, Aug. 48, Washington, D.C., at a session entitled, "Funding research on sexual orientation: who, what and how."