BMC Public Health. 2020 Aug 4;20(1):1123. doi: 10.1186/s12889-020-09210-6.
BACKGROUND: Older lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) adults are an underserved and understudied population that experience specific health disparities. The intersection of aging and chronic medical disease with a higher risk for substance use and mental illness may place older LGB adults at risk for co-occurring conditions and resulting comorbidity. Understanding multimorbidity among older LGB adults may help inform interventions to reduce disparities in health outcomes.
METHODS: Data come from the 2015 to 2017 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health (n = 25,880). We first determined whether sexual orientation was associated with reporting: past-year drug use, mental illness, and/or 2 or more chronic medical diseases. We then determined whether sexual orientation was associated with reporting co-occurrence of these conditions. This was done using multivariable logistic regression. Analyses were stratified by gender.
RESULTS: Compared to heterosexual men, gay men were at increased odds for reporting 2 or more chronic medical diseases (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 2.18, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.48, 3.21), and gay (aOR = 1.79, 95% CI = 1.09, 2.93) and bisexual men (aOR = 3.53, 95% CI = 2.03, 6.14) were at increased odds for reporting mental illness. Gay men (aOR = 2.95, 95CI = 1.60, 5.49) and bisexual men (aOR = 2.84, 95% CI = 1.58, 5.08) were at increased odds of reporting co-occurring conditions. Compared to heterosexual women, bisexual women were at increased odds for past-year drug use (aOR = 4.20, 95% CI = 2.55, 6.93), reporting mental illness (aOR = 1.94, 95% CI = 1.03, 3.67), and reporting co-occurring conditions (aOR = 3.25, 95% = 1.60, 6.62).
CONCLUSIONS: Middle-aged and older LGB adults in the United States are at high risk for experiencing co-occurring drug use, mental illness, and/or medical multimorbidity. Interventions for older sexual minority populations are needed to reduce disparities.