Is Where Same-Sex Couples Live a Valid Measure for Where Single Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual People Live in Population Health Research? Results from a National Probability Phone Survey, 2017, United States

Ann LGBTQ Public Popul Health. 2020;1(2):96-114. doi: 10.1891/lgbtq-2019-0009.


Emerging evidence using the concentration of same-sex couples from the U.S. Census suggests lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB), and transgender (LGBT; i.e., sexual and gender minority [SGM]) people living as a same-sex couple are concentrated in less healthful neighborhoods. However, it is unclear if findings would be different if based on where LGBT individuals live. Thus, we sought to assess differences in neighborhood, county, and state characteristics between same-sex couples and LGBT individuals to inform population health research and policy interventions on LGBT health inequities. In 2017, we conducted a cross-sectional national, probability survey of LGBT adults in the U.S. and geocoded addresses (N=407). We linked locations with census tract, county, and state characteristics selected based on health inequities theories. In 2019, we used weighted analysis to calculate descriptive statistics and conducted planned contrasts of location characteristics by both cohabitation status and gender. Many location characteristics were similar by cohabitation status and gender. However, the tract proportion of Black residents and county crime rate were lower for cohabitating than non-cohabitating men. State smoke-free air score was weaker for cohabitating than non-cohabitating women. The use of same-sex couples to determine the geographical clustering of LGBT lives in the U.S. may give a reasonable indication of overall spatial characteristics but can underestimate some important determinants of health. Care should be taken using same-sex couples as a proxy for LGBT concentration when racial segregation is a potential confounder.

PMID:33615310 | PMC:PMC7891493 | DOI:10.1891/lgbtq-2019-0009