UT Health Research team looking for survey participants

TAMMYE NASH | Managing Editor

This Pride Month, for the seventh year in a row, principal investigator Dr. Irene Tami and her research team at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston are once again asking people to participate in an ongoing study aiming to identify lifestyle and risk factors for chronic conditions, including cancer, among self-identified LGBTQ individuals in Texas.

The survey in English can be accessed at

To access the survey in Spanish, visit https://uthtmc.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/for/SV_aeCtGrZkv7FU754.

The survey closes July 10.

Tami explained that the project began in 2014 when she worked at M.D. Anderson Hospital in Houston. Each summer, she said, her team would attend the Houston Pride Festival, asking people to participate in the survey, “using paper and pen” to collect data.

At first, she said, the survey focused heavily on tobacco use among sexual minorities and marketing by tobacco companies to that same community. In subsequent years, Tami noted, they began to gather information on other health issues affecting the LGBTQ community as well.

In 2020, when COVID-19 forced the cancellation of Houston’s Pride Festival — as well as Pride celebrations around the state and the rest of the country, Tami’s team took their data collection efforts to the virtual world, asking LGBTQ media outlets and organizations around Texas to help them get out the word and reach participants across the state.

As a result, team member Jocelyn Marquez noted, “Last year, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we collected more than 250 responses from many cities across Texas.”

This year, Tami said, the team is once again using the internet to get as many LGBTQ Texans as possible to participate.

“Our findings are critical for designing and implementing tailored interventions and educational programs for preventing and controlling chronic conditions among LGBTQ populations,” Marquez said in an email asking for participants. “Now, more than ever, it is essential that those who identify as LGBTQ are given the best resources that fit their desires and needs. You can help guide our public health systems to better suit LGBTQ+ individuals. [Participation in the survey] would help move research on LGBTQ health forward and legitimize needs.”

Tami said that the first time she and her team went to Houston Pride and collected data on tobacco use in the LGBTQ community, they found 51 percent prevalence of tobacco use in the community, compared to 14 percent in the general population. That has led, she said, to a “huge tsunami of tobacco-related conditions and cancers in the LGBTQ community.”

Based on that data already collected, Tami said, the National Institutes for Health have funded a grant that will allow her team to develop text-based smoking cessation programs created specifically for sexual minorities that will send motivational texts with “content more appealing to LGBTQ groups.”

“We worked with groups in Houston to make sure the language we are using [in the program] is right,” Tami said.

“By the end of this year or sometime next year, with data we hope to gather from the survey this year, I hope to submit for a five-year grant” to address other health issues, and to hopefully include more resources for the transgender community.