Lamar Soutter Library
Gender and Sexuality | Health Sciences and Medical Librarianship | Public Health Education and Promotion
Objectives: Multiple authors have recommended that health sciences libraries use research guides to promote LGBTQ+ health information, connect with their users and the community, and improve health equity. However, little is known about LGBTQ+ health guide usage patterns and whether such guides really meet the information needs of their users. Based on usage patterns from LGBTQ+ health research guides, we assessed the types of LGBTQ+ health information of greatest interest to health sciences library users and how, if appropriate, these guides might be revised to be more relevant to user needs.
Methods: The data for LGBTQ+ health research guides of five health sciences libraries (three in the United States and two in Canada) were studied. Usage data were retrieved for a three year period (July 2018-June 2021). Two separate factors were chosen for analysis: monthly guide usage over time and the individual types of resources used. Monthly usage was studied by generating line graphs in Excel with trendlines to calculate overall guide usage trends. To determine the most sought-after types of resources by users, clicks for individual resources were categorized by type and focus using open coding in Google Sheets.
Results: Overall guide usage was mixed, with some libraries’ guides trending upward over time and others downward. Analysis of the resource links showed that links to local and community health resources were among the most heavily clicked (64.11% of clicks), as were resources designed to help patients find healthcare providers and services (53.23%). Links to library-owned resources, such as books, journals, and databases, were generally clicked less (2.44%), as were links aimed at healthcare professionals (11.36%).
Conclusions: The usage statistics for the guides were relatively low. However, the size of the LGBTQ+ community is relatively low compared to the general population and therefore LGBTQ+ health can be considered a category of minority health. We argue that the importance of providing quality LGBTQ+ health information outweighs any concerns of large-scale usage, and that providing such guides promotes health equity. The higher usage numbers for local resources supports the idea that guides are most useful when they link users to services and providers in their own communities. This suggests a best practice for librarians to focus on local resources and collaborations, and on consumer health resources, when creating and editing these guides.
LGBTQ+ health, library research guides, health equity, consumer health information
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Copyright © 2022 Stevens et al. This is an open-access document distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 License (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted for non-commercial purposes, provided the original author(s) are credited and the same license is used.
DOI of Published Version
Medical Library Association 2022 Annual Meeting
Stevens GA, Fajardo FJ, Morris M, Berry J, Parker RM, McLean KD. (2022). LGBTQ+ Health Research Guides: A Cross-institutional Pilot Study of Usage Patterns. UMass Chan Medical School Publications. https://doi.org/10.13028/z7ey-3y41. Retrieved from https://escholarship.umassmed.edu/publications/55
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.