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Evidence of Health Disparities Among the Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Community in Los Angeles

Shari Mills, PhD and Mark D. Weber, PhD. Tobacco Control and Prevention Program, Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, 3530 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 800, Los Angeles, CA 90010, (213) 351-7313, shmills@dhs.co.la.ca.us

Problem: Despite some advances towards equal rights, the lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) community continues to face social discrimination as well as disparities in health and healthcare. Although health disparities in the LGB community have received limited research focus, much more effort is needed to counter years of inadequate attention. Objective: To study the relationship between sexual orientation, smoking, and smoking-related mental health conditions. Design and Methods: Stratified random population-based telephone health survey conducted in 2002 among Los Angeles County adult residents. Logistic regression analyses were utilized to assess the relationship between sexual orientation and current smoking, lifetime smoking, exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS) in the home, and diagnoses of depression and anxiety/stress disorder after statistically controlling for gender, race/ethnicity, age, and education. Results: LGB individuals were significantly more likely than heterosexuals to be current and lifetime smokers. Further, nonsmoking LGB persons were significantly more likely to report being exposed to SHS in their home on a daily basis. Finally, LGB adults were significantly more likely to be diagnosed by a healthcare professional with depressive and anxiety/stress disorders than were heterosexual adults. Conclusions: Evidence of increased rates of smoking and SHS exposure among the LGB community indicate a clear need for targeted interventions. Further, these interventions should incorporate mental health treatment based on evidence showing increased rates of mental health conditions among LGB tobacco users.

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    Keywords: Smoking, Mental Health

    Presenting author's disclosure statement:
    I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

    Issues in LGBT Health: Poster Session I

    The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA