The Link between Behavioral Risk Factors and Sexual Minority Health: Observing the Intersection Effects of Sexual and Gender Identities

Ning Hsieh, University of Chicago
Matt Ruther, University of Louisville

Disparities in health and behavioral risk factors by sexual orientation are richly documented in the literature. However, few studies have examined how health disparities by sexual orientation are attributed to differential exposure to health risks and access to care, or how gender interacts with sexual orientation to create health gaps. Using data from the 2013 National Health Interview Survey, this study shows that the gender-sexual identity interaction is significant. Relative to heterosexual men, gay men report similar self-rated health (SRH) and functional health (FH), but heterosexual women and bisexual men report moderately poorer SRH and/or FH and lesbian and bisexual women report substantially worse SRH and FH. The disparities in SRH by gender-sexual identity disappear when differences in health behaviors and access to care are considered. However, gender-sexual identity health gaps in functional limitation remain significant.

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Presented in Session 155: Health of Sexual Minorities