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Sexual Minorities Experience Worse Healthcare, UK Study

Update Date: Sep 04, 2014 11:21 PM EDT
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Sexual minorities living in England suffer poorer health than the general population, according to a new study.

The study also revealed that lesbian, gay and bisexual populations are more likely to have negative experiences with the English health care system.

Researchers said the findings were derived from more than 2 million respondents to the 2009/2010 English General Practice Patient Survey. The respondents included more than 27,000 people who described themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual.

Researchers said that the latest study confirms previous findings from the United States. Past studies revealed that gay, lesbian and bisexuals were more likely to suffer depression, anxiety and substance abuse.

"Our results show that sexual minorities suffer poorer health and have worse experiences with health care," lead researcher Marc Elliott and a principal researcher at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. "This suggests a need to develop programs tailored toward the health care needs of lesbian, gay and bisexual patients."

The latest study revealed that gay, lesbian and bisexuals were two to three times more likely to report suffering longstanding psychological or emotional problems compared to their heterosexual counterparts.

Lesbian, gay and bisexual women and men were also 50 percent more likely than their straight counterparts to report negative experiences with primary care services.

"The results raise the possibility that the poorer health reported by sexual minority group members may be due in part to hostile and stressful social environments created by the stigma, prejudice and discrimination that they face," senior study author Dr. Martin Roland, the director of the Cambridge Centre for Health Services Research, said in a news release. "It is possible, too, that this hostile environment may carry over into the medical practice, leading to poor health care experiences."

"We do know that sexual minorities in the United States have health problems similar to those we see in England," Elliott said. "Stigma, prejudice and discrimination exist in the U.S. as well, so it is important to find out whether our health care system also tends to produce worse experiences of care for sexual minorities."

The findings are published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

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