National Health Interview Survey Publishes First Data on Sexual Orientation

The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) has published analyses of its first data collected on the sexual orientation, based on 34,557 adult respondents surveyed in 2013. The question that was included in the NHIS for male respondents was:

Which of the following best represents how you think of yourself:
*Gay
*Straight, that is, not gay
*Bisexual
*Something else
*I don’t know the answer

For female respondents, the question was:

Which of the following best represents how you think of yourself:
*Lesbian or gay
*Straight, that is, not lesbian or gay
*Bisexual
*Something else
*I don’t know the answer

In 2013, 1.6% of the respondents to the NHIS identified as gay or lesbian, and 0.7% identified as bisexual, for a total of 2.3% who identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Only 1.1% identified as “something else”, or responded “I don’t know the answer”, or refused to answer (0.6%). A higher percentage of men identified as gay (1.8%), compared to women who identified as lesbian or gay (1.5%). On the other hand, a higher percentage of women identified as bisexual (0.9%), compared to men who identified as bisexual (0.4%). Overall, 2.4% of the women identified as lesbian or gay, or bisexual, and 2.2% of the men identified as gay or bisexual.

One of the functions of the National Health Interview Survey is to provide national data to meet the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2020 goal of improving the health, safety, and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons. One of the specific objectives for that goal is to increase the number of population-based data systems using a standard set of sexual orientation questions to monitor progress on the Healthy People 2020 objectives.

These NHIS results are among the first data to establish benchmarks for health improvement. Among the results reflecting potential disparities in health status and health care access, especially for women who identified as lesbian or gay, or as bisexual:

A higher percentage of women who identified as straight (63.3%) reported being in excellent or very good health, compared to women who identified as lesbian or gay (54.0%). A higher percentage of women who identified as straight also reported having a usual place to go for medical care (85.5%), compared to women who identified as lesbian or gay (75.6%), or as bisexual (71.6%). A higher percentage of women who identified as bisexual (16.7%), or as lesbian or gay (15.2%) reported failing to obtain medical care in the past year due to cost, compared to women who identified as straight (9.6%).

A higher percentage of women who identified as bisexual (40.4) and as lesbian or gay (35.9%) were obese, compared to women who identified as straight (28.8%). In contrast, a higher percentage of men who identified as straight were obese (30.7%), compared to men who identified as gay (23.2%).

Women who identified as bisexual (29.4%) and as lesbian or gay (27.2%) were more likely to be current cigarette smokers than women who identified as straight (16.9%).

In some good news for HIV prevention, 81.2% of the men who identified as gay reported being tested for HIV in the past year, compared to 54.3% of men who identified as bisexual and 36.1% of men who identified as straight. Interestingly, men who identified as gay also had the highest rate of influenza vaccination (46.1%) compared to men who identified as straight (30.9%), or women who identified as straight (38.9%).

A followup methodology report about this sexual orientation data is being prepared by the National Center for Health Statistics. While the 2013 NHIS did not include a question about gender identity, NCHS is continuing to work on the development and testing of such a question for future inclusion in the NHIS.

Link to Original Source

This entry was posted in Demographic Data: Sexual Orientation, Health Status Disparities, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Health. Bookmark the permalink.

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