Health Equity and Aging of Bisexual Older Adults: Pathways of Risk and Resilience

J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2017 May 1;72(3):468-478. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbw120.


Objectives: Bisexual older adults are a growing yet largely invisible, underserved, and understudied population. Utilizing the Health Equity Promotion Model, we examined hypothesized mechanisms accounting for health disparities between bisexual older adults and lesbian and gay older adults.

Method: Based on data from Caring and Aging with Pride, the largest national survey of LGBT older adults, this study (N = 2,463) utilized structural equation modeling to investigate direct and indirect associations between sexual identity (bisexual vs. lesbian and gay) and health via sexual identity factors (identity disclosure and internalized stigma), social resources, and socioeconomic status (SES).

Results: Bisexual older adults reported significantly poorer health compared with lesbian and gay older adults. Indirect effects involving sexual identity factors, social resources, and SES explained the association between bisexual identity and poorer health. A potentially protective pathway was also identified wherein bisexuals had larger social networks after adjusting for other factors.

Discussion: Bisexual older adults face distinct challenges and health risks relative to other older adults, likely because of the accumulation of socioeconomic and psychosocial disadvantages across the life course. Interventions taking into account older bisexuals' unique risk and protective factors may be helpful in reducing health inequities.

Keywords: Aging; Diversity; Health disparities; Inequities; SES; Sexual identity; Sexual orientation.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging* / psychology
  • Bisexuality / psychology
  • Bisexuality / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Equity*
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Homosexuality / psychology
  • Homosexuality / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Resilience, Psychological*
  • Risk
  • Sexual and Gender Minorities / psychology
  • Sexual and Gender Minorities / statistics & numerical data*
  • Social Class*
  • Social Support*