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American Public Health Association
133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition
December 10-14, 2005
Philadelphia, PA
APHA 2005
3292.0: Monday, December 12, 2005 - 2:30 PM

Abstract #106455

Disclosure of sexual orientation leads to preventative health care among lesbians

Brooke E. Wells, MA, Social Personality Psychology, The Graduate Center at The City University of New York, Center for HIV/AIDS Educational Studies and Training, 250 W. 26th St., Ste 300, New York, NY 10001, 212-206-7919, bwells@hunter.cuny.edu, David S. Bimbi, MA, CHEST, Hunter College-CUNY, 250 West 26th Street, Suite 300, New York, NY 10001, and Jeffrey T. Parsons, PhD, Psychology Department, Hunter College of the City University of New York, 695 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10021.

OBJECTIVES: To examine disclosure of sexual orientation to health care providers (HCPs) among lesbians.

METHODS: Surveys were completed by 346 lesbians, ages 18 to 70 (M=35.4) at community events in New York City and Los Angeles in 2004.

RESULTS: Most lesbians (70%) reported disclosing their sexual orientation to HCPs. Across both cities, higher income women were more likely to disclose (OR=2.74) and disclosers were significantly older than non-disclosers (t(333)=-2.49, p=.01). Those with regular HCPs and those with insurance were more likely to disclose (OR=2.83 and 3.16). Disclosers were significantly more likely to have recently engaged in a variety of preventative health care behaviors (pap tests, mammograms, and self-breast exams) and to report ever having had screening for sexually transmitted infections (all ORs>1.90). Disclosers were significantly more likely to discuss drugs and alcohol with their HCPs (OR=2.92 and 3.11). In NYC, lesbians of color were more likely to disclose to HCPs (OR=1.94), and to have engaged in preventative health care behaviors (all ORs>1.99). Overall, women in LA were more likely to have ever had a pap test (OR=2.59).

CONCLUSION: Because early detection for many health conditions can increase the success of treatment, it is imperative that women communicate effectively with their HCPs. HCPs should initiate discussion and/or indicate their openness to discussions of sexual orientation for all women and work to facilitate better communication with their female patients.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, the participant (learner) in this session will be able to

Keywords: Lesbian Health, Primary Prevention

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

I wish to disclose that I have NO financial interests or other relationship with the manufactures of commercial products, suppliers of commercial services or commercial supporters.

[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

Lesbian and Bisexual Women's Health

The 133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition (December 10-14, 2005) of APHA