Sociodemographic Characteristics and Health Outcomes Among Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual U.S. Adults Using Healthy People 2020 Leading Health Indicators

LGBT Health. 2017 Aug;4(4):283-294. doi: 10.1089/lgbt.2016.0087. Epub 2017 Jul 20.


Purpose: This study aimed to characterize the sociodemographic characteristics of sexual minority (i.e., gay, lesbian, bisexual) adults and compare sexual minority and heterosexual populations on nine Healthy People 2020 leading health indicators (LHIs).

Methods: Using a nationally representative, cross-sectional survey (National Health Interview Survey 2013-2015) of the civilian, noninstitutionalized population (228,893,944 adults), nine Healthy People 2020 LHIs addressing health behaviors and access to care, stratified using a composite variable of sex (female, male) and sexual orientation (gay or lesbian, bisexual, heterosexual), were analyzed individually and in aggregate.

Results: In 2013-2015, sexual minority adults represented 2.4% of the U.S.

Population: Compared to heterosexuals, sexual minorities were more likely to be younger and to have never married. Gays and lesbians were more likely to have earned a graduate degree. Gay males were more likely to have a usual primary care provider, but gay/lesbian females were less likely than heterosexuals to have a usual primary care provider and health insurance. Gay males received more colorectal cancer screening than heterosexual males. Gay males, gay/lesbian females, and bisexual females were more likely to be current smokers than their sex-matched, heterosexual counterparts. Binge drinking was more common in bisexuals compared to heterosexuals. Sexual minority females were more likely to be obese than heterosexual females; the converse was true for gay males. Sexual minorities underwent more HIV testing than their heterosexual peers, but bisexual males were less likely than gay males to be tested. Gay males were more likely to meet all eligible LHIs than heterosexual males. Overall, more sexual minority adults met all eligible LHIs compared to heterosexual adults. Similar results were found regardless of HIV testing LHI inclusion.

Conclusion: Differences between sexual minorities and heterosexuals suggest the need for targeted health assessments and public health interventions aimed at reducing specific negative health behaviors.

Keywords: demographics; epidemiology; health outcomes; sexual minorities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bisexuality
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Status
  • Healthy People Programs
  • Homosexuality, Female
  • Homosexuality, Male
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sexual and Gender Minorities*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Young Adult