The Department of Health and Human Services will start asking questions about sexual orientation and gender identity in its flagship survey of the health of the American population.
Starting in 2013, the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) will include questions about sexual orientation along with those covering health insurance, usual site of medical care, vaccination, obesity, smoking, alcohol consumption and many other topics. Sometime later, questions about gender identity — a more complicated subject — will be added.
“We are taking critical steps toward ensuring the collection of useful national data on minority groups, including for the first time, LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] populations,” Kathleen Sebelius, the Health and Human Services secretary, said in a statement.
The NHIS annually surveys about 40,000 households, collecting information on about 100,000 people. Its results are a representative sample of the entire country and are essential for both public health policymaking and academic study.