Sexual minorities in England have poorer health and worse health care experiences: a national survey

J Gen Intern Med. 2015 Jan;30(1):9-16. doi: 10.1007/s11606-014-2905-y. Epub 2014 Sep 5.


Background: The health and healthcare of sexual minorities have recently been identified as priorities for health research and policy.

Objective: To compare the health and healthcare experiences of sexual minorities with heterosexual people of the same gender, adjusting for age, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.

Design: Multivariate analyses of observational data from the 2009/2010 English General Practice Patient Survey.

Participants: The survey was mailed to 5.56 million randomly sampled adults registered with a National Health Service general practice (representing 99 % of England's adult population). In all, 2,169,718 people responded (39 % response rate), including 27,497 people who described themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual.

Main measures: Two measures of health status (fair/poor overall self-rated health and self-reported presence of a longstanding psychological condition) and four measures of poor patient experiences (no trust or confidence in the doctor, poor/very poor doctor communication, poor/very poor nurse communication, fairly/very dissatisfied with care overall).

Key results: Sexual minorities were two to three times more likely to report having a longstanding psychological or emotional problem than heterosexual counterparts (age-adjusted for 5.2 % heterosexual, 10.9 % gay, 15.0 % bisexual for men; 6.0 % heterosexual, 12.3 % lesbian and 18.8 % bisexual for women; p < 0.001 for each). Sexual minorities were also more likely to report fair/poor health (adjusted 19.6 % heterosexual, 21.8 % gay, 26.4 % bisexual for men; 20.5 % heterosexual, 24.9 % lesbian and 31.6 % bisexual for women; p < 0.001 for each). Adjusted for sociodemographic characteristics and health status, sexual minorities were about one and one-half times more likely than heterosexual people to report unfavorable experiences with each of four aspects of primary care. Little of the overall disparity reflected concentration of sexual minorities in low-performing practices.

Conclusions: Sexual minorities suffer both poorer health and worse healthcare experiences. Efforts should be made to recognize the needs and improve the experiences of sexual minorities. Examining patient experience disparities by sexual orientation can inform such efforts.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bisexuality / ethnology
  • Bisexuality / statistics & numerical data
  • England
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Healthcare Disparities / ethnology
  • Healthcare Disparities / statistics & numerical data*
  • Homosexuality, Female / ethnology
  • Homosexuality, Female / statistics & numerical data
  • Homosexuality, Male / ethnology
  • Homosexuality, Male / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minority Groups / statistics & numerical data
  • Minority Health / ethnology
  • Minority Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sexual Behavior / ethnology
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data*
  • Social Class
  • Young Adult