Health-care disparities stemming from sexual orientation of Italian patients with Multiple Sclerosis: A cross-sectional web-based study

Mult Scler Relat Disord. 2017 Apr:13:28-32. doi: 10.1016/j.msard.2017.02.001. Epub 2017 Feb 5.


Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) patients might experience unique difficulties and barriers to treatment of chronic diseases related to their sexual orientation. Thus, we investigated concerns experienced by LGBT patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). We conducted a web-based survey using a multi-choice questionnaire published in an Italian social-network ( for MS patients. The survey investigated: socio-demographic factors, lifestyle habits, MS-related health status and LGBT specific issues (e.g. friendliness to their sexual orientation and eventual homophobic behaviors in the MS Center). Among MS patients willing to use psychological services, LGBT patients were associated with a smaller number of psychological consultations, compared to heterosexuals (Coeff.=-0.449; p<0.001; 95%CI=-0.682 to -0.217). LGBT patients were more likely to change MS Center, compared to heterosexuals (OR=2.064; p=0.046; 95%CI=1.011-4.212). The number of MS Center changes was associated with MS Center friendliness (p=0.037; rho=-0.229) and with the occurrence of homophobic behaviors (p=0.036; rho=0.234). LGBT MS patients more frequently changed MS Center and had a reduced use of psychological services, compared to heterosexuals. The attitude towards LGBT MS patients might affect resource utilizations and LGBTs health status.

Keywords: Gender; Inequalities; LGBT; Sexual orientation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Healthcare Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Multiple Sclerosis* / epidemiology
  • Sexual and Gender Minorities*
  • Sexuality*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires