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Jessica Gorman on LGBTQ+ cancer care

College of Health researcher works to improve equity in cancer care and outcomes

Portrait of Jessica Gorman

Associate Professor Jessica Gorman’s research focuses on adapting, implementing and evaluating scalable interventions to reduce the negative effects of cancer and cancer treatment on psychosocial, reproductive and sexual health, especially for young adults and LGBTQ+ people.

What inspired you to cancer care and outcomes for LGTBQ+ folks?

This research has really been inspired by conversations with LGBTQ+ cancer survivors and the folks who advocate for them.

What draws me in is hearing peoples’ stories, which have highlighted their significant unmet needs and the burdens they face related to cancer screening and care. These include things like financial barriers to accessing care, medical mistrust, avoidance of care due to fear and experiences of discrimination in health care settings. These factors can contribute to disparities in cancer care and outcomes, and need to be documented so we can implement strategies to address them.

There are currently big gaps in the literature on disparities in cancer care and outcomes for LGBTQ+ folks, especially for transgender and gender diverse individuals. There is a lot of work to be done!

Ultimately, I hope my research, in collaboration with the communities we work with, can make a positive contribution toward improving equity in cancer care and outcomes.

How has your work impacted the health and well-being of LGTBQ+ folks?

One thing my research team has focused on is creating safe and welcoming research spaces for LGBTQ+ folks.

This includes attention to gender affirming language, trauma informed approaches to data collection, and meaningful engagement with LGBTQ+ cancer survivors and co-survivors as we design health promotion approaches and content.

For example, our Thriving Together team is currently working with transgender and gender diverse communities to improve how surveys ask about gender identity.

Collecting data in a way that all people find clear and relevant can improve accuracy and increase participant engagement, allowing us to establish a clearer picture of health disparities and what can be done to address them.

What message would you like to share for Pride Month?

To all of my LGBTQ+ friends, family, colleagues and students, I am proud of you and proud to support you. Happy Pride!