This policy brief from the Fenway Institute makes recommendations about how data about patient sexual orientation and gender identity should be collected.  Patients should be asked about how they self-identify as to their sexual orientation and gender identity on intake forms. Questions should be included in the demographic part of the form, alongside questions about race, sex, and date of birth. Patients should also be assured that this information will be kept confidential, and allows health care providers to provide them with the most relevant prevention information and screen them for health conditions disproportionately affecting members of their demographic group.

After piloting several alternate questions, Fenway Health recommends using the following question to collect data about a patient’s sexual orientation:

Do you think of yourself as:

  • Lesbian, gay, or homosexual
  • Straight or heterosexual
  • Bisexual
  • Something else
  • Don’t know

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is field testing a sexual identity question in the National Health Interview Survey this year and conducting research on how to collect data on gender identity.

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