New public health survey to investigate pandemic impact on 2SLGBTQQIA+ Canadians

Apr 26 2022, 7:21 pm

The first nationwide tri-lingual survey is being conducted on the current state of health for 2SLGBTQQIA+ people in Canada to help inform policymakers and rally for change.

The Our Health: Canada-Wide 2SLGBTQQIA+ Community Survey is now available for eligible participants. Respondents will receive a small honorarium for completing the survey, which will provide data critical towards improving health and social services for the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community.

Spearheading the study is Vancouver-based non-profit Community-Based Research Centre (CBRC), which was most recently involved in advocating for the federal government to ban conversion therapy across the county. Canada passed the motion earlier this year.

In Canada, Two-Spirit, Indigiqueer, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, and other sexually and gender diverse people (2SLGBTQQIA+) manage poorer mental and physical health outcomes than cisgender heterosexual people due to systemic inequalities. Among the many barriers which contribute to this reality is a lack of available information regarding the specific health needs of those who are 2SLGBTQQIA+.

“For too long our politicians and service providers have relied on limited data about the realities of our 2SLGBTQQIA+ community. With this large survey asking a broad array of questions we will gain a more comprehensive understanding of the issues 2SLGBTQQIA+ people face when it comes to our overall health,” says lead researcher Dr. Nathan Lachowsky.

Lachowsky is an expert in epidemiology and health equity. He currently serves as the Research Director for CBRC, the organization responsible for operating the Our Health survey in collaboration with Egale Canada, The Enchanté Network, and 2 Spirits in Motion Society. His community-based research team is familiar with the adverse toll the pandemic has taken on the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community.

“COVID-19 continues to change the ways we work, socialize, get support, and build community,” he states. “This study is not just about the challenges we face as 2SLGBTQQIA+ people, but about the ways we have shown up for each other and as a community. As the circumstances of this pandemic evolve, we need data to advocate for services, programs, and policies that affirm who we are and adequately address our needs. This survey gives us an opportunity to understand and advocate for better health and wellness for 2SLGBTQQIA+ people across Canada.”

Participants in the Our Health survey will have the option of receiving a COVID-19 antibody test in the mail. The goal of this intervention is to collect information on how many 2SLGBTQQIA+ people in Canada got SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). Participants will be asked to complete a Dried Blood Spot (DBS) test and return the sample in a pre-paid envelope, which will then be tested at a laboratory. This test is confidential, and participants can decide whether they want to receive the results. They can also choose to have their sample tested for HIV, hepatitis C, and/or syphilis, and receive those results as well. This helps to address the reduced access to sexual health services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Survey participants completing a DBS test will receive an additional small honorarium.

To ensure the survey is able to provide sufficient information regarding the overall state of its participants’ health and well-being, questions will cover a wide range of topics. Participants will be asked about their mental health, chronic health, their sex lives and relationships, caregiving, community connection, discrimination and violence, substance use, economic impacts, housing, and how they have been coping under COVID-19.

“Questions concerning community support and social connection are strong indicators of how well an individual is able to cope with hardship,” says Lachowsky. “They give us an idea of how we as 2SLGBTQQIA+ people and a community are resilient to the kind of challenges and lack of support we are experiencing during this pandemic.”

In addition to the survey’s COVID-19 focus, the study has worked hard to be inclusive of 2SLGBTQQIA+ community members living with chronic health conditions (e.g., diabetes, cancer, fibromyalgia). Since chronic health conditions are often underrepresented or less understood, and those who live with them are among the groups most severely impacted by the pandemic, the emphasis on their inclusion in the survey has important implications.

CBRC’s 2SLGBTQQIA+ Chronic Health Research Manager, Anu Radha Verma, explains, “Health research has an opportunity to use an intersectional lens ⎯ with the pandemic’s distinct impact on 2SLGBTQQIA+ community members living with chronic health conditions. We want to honour individual and collective experiences while advocating for systemic change.”

The Our Health: Canada-Wide 2SLGBTQQIA+ Community Survey is funded by Canada’s COVID-19 Immunity Task Force and the Public Health Agency of Canada, with testing support provided by the National Microbiology Laboratory.

All data collected will be used to advocate for programs, services, and policies that better support the health and well-being of 2SLGBTQQIA+ people across Canada. The survey takes about 30-60 minutes to complete and is available in English, French and Spanish. To participate, click here.

The Our Health: Canada-Wide 2SLGBTQQIA+ Community Survey is the largest multi-lingual national social health survey dedicated to Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, and other sexually and gender diverse people (2SLGBTQQIA+). It is made possible through the work of a large team of researchers and community partners, and the support of the Community-Based Research Centre (CBRC), Egale, The Enchanté Network, and 2 Spirits in Motion Society.

CBRC promotes the health of people of diverse sexualities and genders through research and intervention development.

Click here for more information.

Follow the conversation on social media with the hashtag #OurHealth

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