Disparities in health-related quality of life: a comparison of lesbians and bisexual women

Am J Public Health. 2010 Nov;100(11):2255-61. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2009.177329. Epub 2010 Sep 23.


Objectives: We investigated the association of health-related quality of life (HRQOL) with sexual orientation among lesbians and bisexual women and compared the predictors of HRQOL between the 2 groups.

Methods: We used multivariate logistic regression to analyze Washington State Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System population-based data (2003 to 2007) in a sample of 1496 lesbians and bisexual women and examined determinants of HRQOL among lesbians and bisexual women.

Results: For lesbians and bisexual women, frequent mental distress and poor general health were associated with poverty and lack of exercise; poor general health was associated with obesity and mental distress. Bisexual women showed a higher likelihood of frequent mental distress and poor general health than did lesbians. The odds of mental distress were higher for bisexual women living in urban areas as compared with nonurban areas. Lesbians had an elevated risk of poor general health and mental distress during midlife.

Conclusions: Despite the standard practice of collapsing sexual minority women into a single group, lesbian and bisexual women in this study emerge as distinct groups that merit specific attention. Bisexual women are at elevated risk for poor HRQOL.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bisexuality / statistics & numerical data*
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Homosexuality, Female / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Mental Health / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Poverty / statistics & numerical data
  • Quality of Life*
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data
  • Washington / epidemiology
  • Young Adult