Population Research in Sexual and Gender Minority Health (PRISM) Data Archive Launches
At the Center for Population Research in LGBT Health, we are excited to announce the launch of the Population Research in Sexual and Gender Minority Health (PRISM) Data Archive. The PRISM archive provides on-line access to high quality datasets in LGBT health to the scholarly and research community. Our mission at the Population Center is to stimulate research to understand and improve the health of sexual and gender minorities. Establishment of the PRISM Archive is one of the major initiatives we are undertaking in fulfilling that mission.
The Fenway Institute teamed with the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) at the University of Michigan to develop and house the PRISM Data Archive. ICPSR is the world’s largest resource for digital social science data and the global leader in data preservation and distribution. Through institutional memberships of universities and organizations, ICPSR makes more than 500,000 files of social science research available to scholars around the globe. In addition to their general archive of social science data, ICPSR hosts several specialized collections in education, aging, criminal justice, substance abuse, terrorism, and other fields. The launch of the PRISM archive adds LGBT health to the list of ICPSR’s special collections.
The PRISM archive currently contains over 200 data files, including datasets from ICPSR’s holdings that include questions about sexual orientation, same-sex sexual behavior and same-sex partnership. The Pop Center is working to add additional data sets that focus upon sexual and gender minority health and that target LGBT population groups for inclusion. Selected upcoming Population Center data releases include:
- The CORE Data Project, a survey of 3,013 lesbian, gay, bisexual, heterosexual and transgender people who received healthcare at Fenway, regarding their life experiences and health concerns and conducted by researchers at The Fenway Institute;
- The Multi-Site Women’s Health Study, a survey that assessed general health status and behavioral and environmental health risks of 829 lesbian and heterosexual women and conducted by a team of researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the City University of New York, and the University of Minnesota; and
- The Vermont Civil Union Study, a survey of 1538 people of all sexual orientations, some in civil unions, some in same-sex couples not formalized in unions, and some in heterosexual marriages, conducted by researchers at the University of Vermont.
The protection of confidentiality of research participants has been a key concern in the development of the PRISM archive. All of the datasets included in the archive undergo a thorough confidentiality review. None of the archived datasets contain any direct identifiers (such as name or address). Further, included datasets each undergo testing to ensure that participants cannot be indirectly identified through cross-referencing and triangulation of demographic variables like zipcode, age, gender and race. The archive also contains a “restricted use” layer of protection whereby particularly sensitive data will be made available by application only and will require a human subjects protection review by an Institutional Review Board.
The Data Resources page of the Population Center’s website provides a portal to the PRISM archive. Users can search the data archive by keyword and by population subgroup. Users can also browse descriptions of research files recommended for student use, including collections that are specifically designed for students and studies that we recommend for analytic explorations of LGBT health issues at an introductory level. Such studies cover a broad range of topics and contain several sexual minority variables and/or large sample sizes of sexual minorities. Users at ICPSR member universities and organizations can download the full research files through the Population Center website.
By making data in sexual and gender minority health available to the wide community of research scholars, we believe the PRISM archive represents a major step forward in the field of LGBT population science. The Pop Center will continue to build the PRISM collection and encourages LGBT health researchers to consider making their data available to the scholarly community through deposit in the archive.