May 14, 2013
Contact: Lulu Todorov (215.825.8202 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Data will guide policy makers in the region

PHILADELPHIA – In April, Public Health Management Corporation's (PHMC) Research and Evaluation Group released a 104-page report titled Health and Service Needs of LGBT Older Adults in Philadelphia. The report includes full findings from one of the largest studies ever done on Philadelphia's aging lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. The document reports on the experiences of more than 200 older Philadelphians from a variety of backgrounds who identified as LGBT.

A major outcome of the project is a set of recommendations to increase access to healthcare and enhance service provision for older LGBT adults. The recommendations were developed by examining the results of the research surveys, interviews and focus group as well as eliciting feedback from community members. These recommendations are unique in providing tangible resources for medical and social service providers to enhance their knowledge on how to serve LGBT persons.

Additionally, the recommendations include service and information resources to enhance the quality of life for LGBT older adults. "We want to do more than merely provide suggestions on what can be done to improve services for LGBT older adults" says Lee Carson, a research associate at PHMC. "We also want to be sure providers know exactly where they can find resources to enhance their ability to meet the needs of this underserved population. Additionally, we want LGBT older adults to have access to resources that will help enhance their quality of life".

The recommendations cover three broad areas: access to healthcare, access to social services and housing, and cultural competence. Regarding access to healthcare, the study found that 22% of participants aged 55-64 didn't have health insurance, 21% didn't have prescription drug coverage, and 45% didn't have dental insurance. These numbers are in stark contrast to the Healthy People 2020 goal, which aims to have coverage for 100% of older adults. The recommendations provide seniors with information about where they can call to check their eligibility for health insurance.

The study also found that 20% of respondents reported that they experienced or feared they would be treated poorly in an older adult service setting. Study recommendations include making older adult programs LGBT affirming, making staff and policies in public housing affirming of LGBT older adults and their relationships, and increasing competence in how long-term care facilities can meet the needs of their LGBT patients.

To help providers increase their cultural competence in these various settings, the recommendations focus on providing key resources that can be utilized by providers in these settings. These include publications from key national LGBT organizations such as the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA) and Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders (SAGE). Additionally, training resources specifically geared toward helping mainstream older adult service organizations increase their competence around the inclusion of LGBT older adults are provided locally by the William Way LGBT Community Center.

The findings and recommendations from the study have already been put to use by local organizations who are actively working on enhancing the health of LGBT older adult populations. Heshie Zinman, co-chair of the LGBT Elder Initiative (LGBTEI), who served on the Community Advisory Board for the study states "Any solid data like this concerning the needs of LGBT communities is priceless because we have not been counted in the past. The PHMC study adds significantly to our knowledge of the health discrepancies that LGBT older adults face. In fact, we have already used the results of this study to plan our 'LGBT Older Women's Health' community forum."

The report has also captured the attention of local city government. Gloria Casarez, director of LGBT affairs for the City of Philadelphia and an advisory board member states "Health and Service Needs of LGBT Older Adults in Philadelphia represents the best information we've ever had on the needs of Philadelphia's LGBT elder population". She goes on to add, "Providing specific insight into LGBT elders' access to health care, social services and housing, the findings will inform policy and guide practice in the Philadelphia region."

To request a full copy of the report, call Lee Carson at 267.765.2352 or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


About PHMC

Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC) is a nonprofit public health institute that creates and sustains healthier communities. PHMC uses best practices to improve community health through direct service, partnership, innovation, policy, research, technical assistance and a prepared workforce. PHMC has served the region since 1972. For more information on PHMC, visit