Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Hispanic Lesbians and Bisexual Women at Heightened Risk of Health Disparities

Posted: February 02, 2012
A recent study titled Hispanic Lesbians and Bisexual Women at Heightened Risk or Health Disparities, published in the American Journal of Public Health found Hispanic lesbian and bisexual women tend to be at a greater risk of worse health outcomes than Hispanic heterosexual as well as white lesbian and bisexual women. Little background literature covers health disparities among sexual minorities of color, especially Hispanics, according to the authors. This study aims to explore how Hispanic sexual minorities fare in health care access, health outcomes, health status, and health risk behaviors.

Hispanic lesbians and bisexual women, compared with Hispanic heterosexual women, were at elevated risk for disparities in smoking, asthma, and disability. Hispanic bisexual women also showed higher odds of arthritis, acute drinking, poor general health, and frequent mental distress compared with Hispanic heterosexual women. In addition, Hispanic bisexual women were more likely to report frequent mental distress than were non-Hispanic White bisexual women. Hispanic lesbians were more likely to report asthma than were non-Hispanic White lesbians.

The study used the weighted-data from a 7- year merged file of the Washington State Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), 2003 – 2009. The sample size for the analysis was 6,338. Only Hispanic and white women who self- identified as lesbian, bisexual, or heterosexual were included in the study. Within the sample, 1.1% were Hispanic lesbian and 1.6% were Hispanic bisexual. Data were collected for health status, health risk behaviors, health outcomes, and health care access.

This study is one of the first studies to assess disparities among Hispanic lesbian and bisexual women according to the authors. The authors suggest that further research is needed in order to develop culturally appropriate programs that meet the needs of these subgroups. This in turn, as the authors argue, will achieve the goals laid out Healthy People 2020.

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