Race/Ethnicity and Health-Related Quality of Life Among LGBT Older Adults

Gerontologist. 2017 Feb;57(suppl 1):S30-S39. doi: 10.1093/geront/gnw172.


Purpose of the study: Few existing studies have addressed racial/ethnic differences in the health and quality of life of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) older adults. Guided by the Health Equity Promotion Model, this study examines health-promoting and health risk factors that contribute to racial/ethnic health disparities among LGBT adults aged 50 and older.

Design and methods: We utilized weighted survey data from Aging with Pride: National Health, Aging, and Sexuality/Gender Study. By applying multiple mediator models, we analyzed the indirect effects of race/ethnicity on health-related quality of life (HRQOL) via demographics, lifetime LGBT-related discrimination, and victimization, and socioeconomic, identity-related, spiritual, and social resources.

Results: Although African Americans and Hispanics, compared with non-Hispanic Whites, reported lower physical HRQOL and comparable psychological HRQOL, indirect pathways between race/ethnicity and HRQOL were observed. African Americans and Hispanics had lower income, educational attainment, identity affirmation, and social support, which were associated with a decrease in physical and psychological HRQOL. African Americans had higher lifetime LGBT-related discrimination, which was linked to a decrease in their physical and psychological HRQOL. African Americans and Hispanics had higher spirituality, which was associated with an increase in psychological HRQOL.

Implications: Findings illustrate the importance of identifying both health-promoting and health risk factors to understand ways to maximize the health potential of racially and ethnically diverse LGBT older adults. Interventions aimed at health equity should be tailored to bolster identity affirmation and social networks of LGBT older adults of color and to support strengths, including spiritual resources.

Keywords: Black; Health disparities; Latino; Racial and ethnic minority; Sexual identity.

MeSH terms

  • African Americans
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging*
  • Crime Victims
  • Educational Status
  • Ethnicity*
  • Female
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Health Status*
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Homophobia
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life*
  • Sexual and Gender Minorities*
  • Social Class
  • Social Identification
  • Social Support
  • Spirituality
  • United States
  • Whites