Adverse Childhood Experiences Related to Poor Adult Health Among Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Individuals

Am J Public Health. 2016 Feb;106(2):314-20. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2015.302904. Epub 2015 Dec 21.


Objectives: We explored the association of sexual orientation with poor adult health outcomes before and after adjustment for exposure to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).

Methods: Data were from the 2012 North Carolina, 2011 Washington, and 2011 and 2012 Wisconsin Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) surveys regarding health risks, perceived poor health, and chronic conditions by sexual orientation and 8 categories of ACEs. There were 711 lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) respondents and 29,690 heterosexual respondents.

Results: LGB individuals had a higher prevalence of all ACEs than heterosexuals, with odds ratios ranging from 1.4 to 3.1. After adjustment for cumulative exposure to ACEs, sexual orientation was no longer associated with poor physical health, current smoking, and binge drinking. Associations with poor mental health, activity limitation, HIV risk behaviors, current asthma, depression, and disability remained, but were attenuated.

Conclusions: The higher prevalence of ACEs among LGB individuals may account for some of their excess risk for poor adult health outcomes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
  • Bisexuality*
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / psychology
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Homosexuality*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • North Carolina
  • Prevalence
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
  • Young Adult