Joanna Semlyen Research bio

Dr Semlyen has been carrying out research in the health of minority groups and vulnerable populations for the last 11 years and is a leading expert in the area of health inequalities in gender and sexual minorities. Her interdisciplinary research focus has included using qualitative research methods to explore healthcare experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals. Examples of this include an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of the intersectional aspects within consultations between gay Muslim men and primary health care professionals (HCPs) (Semlyen, Ali, and Flowers 2018) and a Thematic Analysis of transgender men’s barriers to cervical screening (Semlyen and Kunasegaran 2016). Using quantitative methods, Semlyen has carried out secondary data analysis of smoking and hazardous alcohol in lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) youth (Hagger-Johnson et al. 2013, Shahab et al. 2017) and cancer care experiences of LGB people (Hulbert-Williams et al. 2017). She has carried out a meta-analysis of mental disorder, substance misuse, suicide and self-harm in LGB people (King et al. 2008) directly impacting the National Suicide Strategy by adding LGB as a risk group and of psychotherapy and counselling in LGBT people (King et al. 2007). Using Individual Participant Data meta-analysis with data pooling data analytic techniques (Semlyen 2017), she has produced the first population level analysis of the relationship between sexual orientation and common mental disorder in the UK (Semlyen et al. 2016) and with BMI categories (Semlyen, Curtis, and Varney in press).

She is currently carrying out research in health care professionals and LGBT people in particular looking at developing interventions to improve skills, knowledge and awareness of LGBT issues in medics and other HCPs, and qualitative research exploring the experiences of primary care practitioners and sexual orientation monitoring. She also continues to explore health disparities in UK sexual minorities.

Selected publications

Hagger-Johnson, G., R. Taibjee, J. Semlyen, I. Fitchie, J. Fish, C. Meads, and J. Varney. 2013. “Sexual orientation identity in relation to smoking history and alcohol use at age 18/19: cross-sectional associations from the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England (LSYPE).” Bmj Open 3 (8). doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2013-002810.

Hulbert-Williams, N. J., C. O. Plumpton, P. Flowers, R. McHugh, R. D. Neal, J. Semlyen, and L. Storey. 2017. “The cancer care experiences of gay, lesbian and bisexual patients: A secondary analysis of data from the UK Cancer Patient Experience Survey.” Eur J Cancer Care (Engl). doi: 10.1111/ecc.12670.

King, M., J. Semlyen, S. S. Tai, H. Killaspy, D. Osborn, D. Popelyuk, and I. Nazareth. 2008. “A systematic review of mental disorder, suicide, and deliberate self harm in lesbian, gay and bisexual people.” Bmc Psychiatry 8. doi: 10.1186/1471-244x-8-70.

King, Michael, Joanna Semlyen, Helen Killaspy, Irwin Nazareth, and David Osborn. 2007. “A systematic review of research on counselling and psychotherapy for lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender people.” British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.

Semlyen, J., M. King, J. Varney, and G. Hagger-Johnson. 2016. “Sexual orientation and symptoms of common mental disorder or low wellbeing: combined meta-analysis of 12 UK population health surveys.” Bmc Psychiatry 16. doi: 10.1186/s12888-016-0767-z.

Semlyen, Joanna. 2017. “Recording Sexual Orientation in the UK: Pooling Data for Statistical Power.” American Journal of Public Health 107 (8):1215-1217. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2017.303910.

Semlyen, Joanna, Atif Ali, and Paul Flowers. 2018. “Intersectional  identities and dilemmas in interactions with health care professionals: An interpretative phenomenological analysis of British gay Muslim men.” Culture, Health and Sexuality.

Semlyen, Joanna, Tyrone Curtis, and Justin Varney. in press. “Sexual orientation identityin relation to unhealthy Body Mass Index (BMI): Individual Participant Meta-Analysis of 93,429 individuals from 12 surveys.” Journal of Public Health.

Semlyen, Joanna, and Kogliavani Kunasegaran. 2016. “Understanding barriers to cervical screening uptake in trans men: an exploratory qualitative anlaysis.” The Lancet 388:S104.

Shahab, L., J. Brown, G. Hagger-Johnson, S. Michie, J. Semlyen, R. West, and C. Meads. 2017. “Sexual orientation identity and tobacco and hazardous alcohol use: findings from a cross-sectional English population survey.” Bmj Open 7 (10). doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-015058.