Sexual orientation, relationship status, and mental health/substance use morbidity: Results from the California Quality of Life Surveys
Objectives: We investigate whether sexual orientation-match is associated with the beneficial effects of married/cohabiting relationships.
Methods: Between 2004-2012, the population-based Cal-QOLs drew 3 samples of Californians (N=7536), age 18 to 72 years (5324 exclusively heterosexual; 2014 LGB identified). Repondents were administered a structured interview assessing sexual orientation, 6 mental health/substance abuse (MHSA) disorders, relationship status, and partner gender. We used regression methods to investigate associations between relationship status, sexual orientation and MHSA morbidity while adjusting for demographic confounding.
Results: Approximately 39% of LGB individuals were married/cohabiting (25% SS relationships; 15% DS relationships). Among heterosexuals, 63% were DS partnered (none SS partnered). Overall, 21% of respondents met criteria for at least 1 MHSA disorder. This varied by sexual orientation (AOR=1.91, 95% CI: 1.55-2.36). Being in a DS (AOR=0.60, CI: 0.51-0.70) or SS (AOR=0.70, CI: 0.50-0.98) relationship was associated with lower MHSA risk when compared to single persons suggesting that both types of relationships have protective properties. Among LGB persons, only those in SS (AOR=0.71, CI: 0.50-1.00), but not DS (AOR=1.15, CI: 0.71-1.88), relationships evidenced lower MHSA risk.
Conclusions: MHSA protective properties of close relationships are present in both heterosexual and SS relationships, but heterosexual relationships appear to provide little mental health benefit for sexual minorities.
Learning Areas:Diversity and culture
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences
Identify sexual orientation-related differences in close relationship status. Describe the effects of partner gender on risk for mental health and substance abuse morbidity among sexual orientation minorities.
Keyword(s): Mental Health, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT)
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the PI of the CalQOL surveys.
Any relevant financial relationships? No
I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.