Health Indicators for Older Sexual Minorities: National Health Interview Survey, 2013-2014

LGBT Health. 2017 Dec;4(6):398-403. doi: 10.1089/lgbt.2016.0203. Epub 2017 Oct 13.


Purpose: Advances in lesbian, gay, and bisexual (sexual minority [SM]) acceptance and equality have been made in the past decade. However, certain SM subgroups continue to be disadvantaged due to lack of data and, thus, lack of knowledge about these populations. Data for older sexual minorities are especially lacking and will be increasingly important as more sexual minorities enter older age. This research explores results from a nationally representative health survey to elucidate some health indicators for older sexual minorities.

Methods: Data from the 2013 and 2014 National Health Interview Surveys (NHIS) were pooled for increased sample size, and established research methods were followed as recommended by prior NHIS sexual orientation studies. We conducted descriptive analyses on the differences between SM and heterosexual groups, aged 65 years and older, for 12 health indicators.

Results: Four out of the 12 health indicators were significantly different for sexual minorities, and three out of those four indicated positive health outcomes or behaviors when compared with heterosexuals. Sexual minorities were more than three times as likely to receive HIV testing as heterosexual peers. Sexual minorities were more likely to receive an influenza vaccination, and much more likely to report excellent or very good health, than their heterosexual peers. Sexual minorities were more than twice as likely to report binge drinking, which is consistent with prior research for adult sexual minorities.

Conclusion: This analysis is the first to examine national data on health indicators for sexual minorities, aged 65 years and older, using NHIS data. As more surveys begin to collect SMdata and more years of data are collected by NHIS, a clearer picture of the health of older adult sexual minorities should emerge.

Keywords: NHIS; aging; and bisexual; gay; lesbian; older adults; sexual minority..

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Healthcare Disparities
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Sexual and Gender Minorities*
  • Sexuality
  • United States