A major US report says that the unique health needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people should be identified.

The Institute of Medicine report says that government-funded health studies should routinely ask people their sexual orientation and gender identity, just as they already ask about race and ethnicity.

The report added that many LGBT people struggle to discuss their health concerns with doctors because of stigma – and there is not enough guidance for healthcare professionals.

It concluded that the National Institutes of Health should set out a research agenda into LGBT health issues.

According to Associated Press, the report is intended as technical advice to the National Institutes of Health but has been welcomed by gay rights groups.

Human Rights Campaign said it had been pushing the federal government to collect data on LGBT healthcare.

President Joe Solmonese said: “It is clear there are significant health disparities facing our community. We look forward to working with NIH and HHS [Department of Health and Human Services] to identify research priorities that will begin to address them.

“The federal government has the tools they need to improve the health and wellbeing of LGBT people. It’s time to put them to use.”

Research suggests that LGBT people are more likely to suffer from stress and depression than the general population. They are also more likely to smoke and use illegal drugs, some studies claim.

Other issues include HIV rates in gay and bisexual men, isolation and poor care in later life and a low uptake of cervical cancer screening in lesbians.