Lesbian, gay and bisexual men and women in England report poorer health and worse experiences of healthcare in the NHS

A survey of over two million people has found that lesbian, gay and bisexual men and women in England are more likely to report poor health and unfavourable experiences of the National Health Service than their heterosexual counterparts. Previous studies – particularly from the US – have suggested that sexual minorities (gay, lesbian or bisexual) are more likely to suffer from poorer health, including depression and anxiety, than the general population. However, such studies have tended to be limited by sample size and a tendency to combine sexual minority groups that may have quite different experiences of health and health care.

In a study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, we analysed data from over two million respondents to the 2009/2010 English General Practice Patient Survey. The respondents included more than 27,000 people who described themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, making it one of the largest surveys of the healthcare of sexual minorities carried out anywhere.

Sexual minorities were two to three times more likely to report having a longstanding psychological or emotional problem than their heterosexual counterparts. Nearly 11% of gay men and 15% of bisexual men reported such a problem, compared with 5% of heterosexual men; similarly, just over 12% of lesbian women and almost 19% of bisexual women reported problems compared with 6% of heterosexual women. Sexual minorities were also more likely to report fair or poor general health: 22% of gay men, 26% of bisexual men and 20% of heterosexual men; and 25% of lesbians, 31% of bisexual women and 21% of heterosexual women.

Lesbian, gay and bisexual men and women were also up to 50% more likely than heterosexuals to report negative experiences with primary care services, including trust and confidence with their GP,  communication with both doctors and nurses, and overall satisfaction.

So people from sexual minorities seem to have a double disadvantage of worse health (especially mental health) and worse experiences of healthcare. The question now is, what are we going to do about this? We’d be interested in hearing your suggestions – do get in touch.

Read the full paper for free. Elliott M, Kanouse D, Burkhart O, Abel G, Lyratzopoulos G, Beckett M, Schuster M, Roland M. Sexual Minorities in England Have Poorer Health and Worse Health Care Experiences: A National Survey. Journal of General Internal Medicine, September 2014.


More on this story in The Guardian

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