Slow Growth in Published Research Articles in LGBT Health

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While the number of publications in LGBT health indexed in PubMed has increased considerably over the last two decades, growth of the percent of LGBT-related publications in relation to the total number of research publications has been much slower and more uneven.

During the decade of the 1990s, the number of publications indexed in PubMed that included one or more LGBT keywords in the title, abstract, or MeSH subject heading remained relatively steady year to year. However, during the same time period the percentage of LGBT publications dropped steadily to a low in 1999 of 0.15%. Since 1999, both the number and percent of LGBT publications have increased; in 2009, 980 (.21%) of publications included an LGBT keyword. While this represents a substantial increase since 1999, the percentage of LGBT publications in 2009 was still smaller than the percentage in 1990 (.24%).

Data was compiled from PubMed searches (limited to journal articles tagged with the MeSH subject heading “humans.”) LGBT search terms include variants of the following: gay, bisexual, lesbian, homosexual, queer, transgender, transsexual, transvestite, cross-dresser, sexual minority, gender minority, sexual orientation, sexual identity, same-sex partner, men who have sex with men, women who have sex with women, and women who partner with women. Readers can replicate the search for LGBT health research publications by using the LGBT Pop Center’s automated PubMed search link, accessible on the Literature tab.

For Further Thought

  • What contextual factors might account for the decline in the percent of LGBT health publications in the 1990s? Might improvements in HIV/AIDS therapies
    and perceptions of a declining significance of HIV/AIDS have played a role?
  • Do you expect the percent and number of LGBT health related publications to continue to increase in future years?