Sexual Minority Health and Health Risk Factors

Intersection Effects of Gender, Race, and Sexual Identity
Published:January 20, 2016DOI:


      Although population studies have documented the poorer health outcomes of sexual minorities, few have taken an intersectionality approach to examine how sexual orientation, gender, and race jointly affect these outcomes. Moreover, little is known about how behavioral risks and healthcare access contribute to health disparities by sexual, gender, and racial identities.


      Using ordered and binary logistic regression models in 2015, data from the 2013 and 2014 National Health Interview Surveys (n=62,302) were analyzed to study disparities in self-rated health and functional limitation. This study examined how gender and race interact with sexual identity to create health disparities, and how these disparities are attributable to differential exposure to behavioral risks and access to care.


      Conditional on sociodemographic factors, all sexual, gender, and racial minority groups, except straight white women, gay white men, and bisexual non-white men, reported worse self-rated health than straight white men (p<0.05). Some of these gaps were attributable to differences in behaviors and healthcare access. All female groups, as well as gay non-white men, were more likely to report a functional limitation than straight white men (p<0.05), and these gaps largely remained when behavioral risks and access to care were accounted for. The study also discusses health disparities within sexual, gender, and racial minority groups.


      Sexual, gender, and racial identities interact with one another in a complex way to affect health experiences. Efforts to improve sexual minority health should consider heterogeneity in health risks and health outcomes among sexual minorities.
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