Online Program

Psychological Distress and Barriers to Medical and Mental Healthcare in Bisexual Men and Women

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

K. Bryant Smalley, PhD, PsyD, MBA, Rural Health Research Institute, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA
K. Nikki Barefoot, Psy.D., Rural Health Research Institute, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA
Jacob Warren, PhD, MBA, Center for Rural Health and Health Disparities, Mercer University School of Medicine, Macon, GA
The purpose of the current study was to examine the experiences of psychological distress and barriers to care among bisexual men and women in comparison to their gay/lesbian counterparts.

A nationally diverse sample of 2,500 LGB-identified individuals participated in the online study. Participants completed the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale and questions assessing their barriers to primary care, mental health, and gynecological services (females only).

When compared to their gay/lesbian counterparts, both bisexual men and women reported greater anxiety symptoms, with bisexual women also reporting higher levels of depression and stress. In addition, when compared to the gay/lesbian sample, a greater percentage of bisexual men and women endorsed the following barriers to care: less likely to feel comfortable discussing their sexual orientation with medical and mental healthcare providers; perceived limited availability of medical providers in their area; less likely to be asked about their sexual orientation by their provider; and less likely to think it is important for their provider to be aware of their sexual orientation. In comparison to their lesbian counterparts, more bisexual women reported a need for mental health care and a history of mental health concerns. In comparison to their gay counterparts, more bisexual men were uninsured and reported that they had avoided mental healthcare due to fears of discrimination/mistreatment.

Overall, not only do bisexual men and women face different barriers to care, these barriers appear to be systematically impacting their mental health above and beyond their gay/lesbian counterparts. Implications for research and practice will be discussed.

Learning Areas:

Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Diversity and culture
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the unique vulnerabilities experienced by bisexual men and women. Describe differences in psychological distress (i.e., anxiety, depression, stress) between bisexual men and women and their gay/lesbian counterparts. List five barriers to care that, when compared to their gay/lesbian counterparts, relatively more bisexual men and/or women face.

Keyword(s): Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT), Mental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been involved with health behavior research for more than ten years, including several studies and publications examining LGBT health. I additionally possess two doctorates in clinical psychology.
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.