Objectives. To examine disparities in chronic conditions and health indicators among lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) adults aged 50 years or older in the United States.
Methods. We used data from the 2013 and 2014 National Health Interview Survey to compare disparities in chronic conditions, health outcomes and behaviors, health care access, and preventive health care by sexual orientation and gender.
Results. LGB older adults were significantly more likely than heterosexual older adults to have a weakened immune system and low back or neck pain. In addition, sexual minority older women were more likely than their heterosexual counterparts to report having arthritis, asthma, a heart attack, a stroke, a higher number of chronic conditions, and poor general health. Sexual minority older men were more likely to report having angina pectoris or cancer. Rates of disability and mental distress were higher among LGB older adults.
Conclusions. At substantial cost to society, many disparities in chronic conditions, disability, and mental distress observed in younger LGB adults persist, whereas others, such as cardiovascular disease risks, present in later life. Interventions are needed to maximize LGB health.
- All of the authors are with the School of Social Work, University of Washington, Seattle.