Risk of psychiatric disorders among individuals reporting same-sex sexual partners in the National Comorbidity Survey

Am J Public Health. 2001 Jun;91(6):933-9. doi: 10.2105/ajph.91.6.933.


Objectives: This study examined the risk of psychiatric disorders among individuals with same-sex sexual partners.

Methods: Data are from the National Comorbidity Survey, a nationally representative household survey. Respondents were asked the number of women and men with whom they had sexual intercourse in the past 5 years. Psychiatric disorders according to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Revised Third Edition (DSM-III-R) criteria were assessed with a modified version of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview.

Results: A total of 2.1% of men and 1.5% of women reported 1 or more same-sex sexual partners in the past 5 years. These respondents had higher 12-month prevalences of anxiety, mood, and substance use disorders and of suicidal thoughts and plans than did respondents with opposite-sex partners only. Decomposition showed that the elevated same-sex 12-month prevalences were largely due to higher lifetime prevalences. Ages at onset and persistence of disorders did not differ between the same-sex and opposite-sex subsamples.

Conclusions: Homosexual orientation, defined as having same-sex sexual partners, is associated with a general elevation of risk for anxiety, mood, and substance use disorders and for suicidal thoughts and plans. Further research is needed to replicate and explore the causal mechanisms underlying this association.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Homosexuality, Female / psychology*
  • Homosexuality, Female / statistics & numerical data
  • Homosexuality, Male / psychology*
  • Homosexuality, Male / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / classification
  • Mental Disorders / complications
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Mood Disorders / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Suicide / psychology
  • United States / epidemiology