This health policy research brief from the University of California Los Angeles Center for Health Policy Research uses data from the 2003, 2005 and 2007 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) to analyze the health of aging lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) adults (ages 50-70) in California. [The CHIS does not ask questions about gender identity.] This research brief was funded by The California Wellness Foundation and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
As might be expected given the relatively recent legal recognition of same-sex relationships, aging lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals in California are more likely to live alone and less likely to have children who provide social and other support, compared to heterosexual older adults.
The data also shows that aging gay and bisexual men have statistically significant higher rates of hypertension, diabetes, psychological distress symptoms, physical disability, and self-reported fair or poor health status than heterosexual men in California. Aging lesbian and bisexual women have statistically significant higher rates of psychological distress symptoms, physical disability, and self-reported fair or poor health status than heterosexual women in California. The data also shows that lesbian and bisexual women are more likely to delay receiving medical care or prescriptions they felt they needed than heterosexual women in California. While the data showed differences in access to care for gay and bisexual men compared to heterosexual men in California, these differences were not statistically significant when controlling for age, race/ethnicity, insurance, income and education.
These findings highlight the importance of collecting and using data about the sexual orientation of respondents in population health surveys.