LGBT adults experience higher rates of psychological distress and impaired physical health than heterosexuals
According to a report published today, LGBT adults are also more likely to smoke and drink heavily compared to heterosexuals.
Published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal by researchers at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and University of Minnesota School of Public Health, the National Health Interview Survey collated responses from 68,000 US adults.
LGBT adults report substantially higher rates of severe psychological distress, heavy drinking, heavy smoking and impaired physical health than heterosexuals, according to the study.
The results support earlier findings that members of the LGBT community are disproportionately affected by mental health problems, which may be related to stigma, prejudice and discrimination.
Authors of the study concluded that its results “should serve as a call to health care professionals and public health practitioners to pay particular attention to this small, diverse and vulnerable population”.
“Clinicians, health care providers and health policymakers should be sensitive to the health and social issues affecting LGBT patients,” said Gilbert Gonzales, the study’s corresponding author.
Compared to heterosexuals, results revealed that gay and bisexual men are more likely to report severe psychological distress, heavy drinking and moderate smoking
It also found that lesbian women are more likely to report moderate psychological distress, poor or fair health, multiple chronic conditions, heavy drinking and heavy smoking.
Bisexual women are more likely to report multiple chronic conditions, severe psychological distress, heavy drinking and moderate smoking.
Previous studies have linked mental health issues among LGBT people to discrimination, bullying, homophobia, pressure to conform and poor self-esteem.
Levels of suicide, deliberate self-harm and drug and alcohol abuse are also significantly higher among LGBT people than for their heterosexual counterparts.
Earlier this year, London-based charity PACE, which has specialised in mental health services for LGBT+ people, closed down after 31 years, citing the financial climate.