Online Program

Association Between Being Out About Sexual Orientation to Primary Healthcare Provider and Physical Health Among Sexual Minority Women

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 10:30 a.m. - 10:43 a.m.

Vanessa Cox, MS, Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences, University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston, TX
Kimberly Wildes, DrPH, MA, LPC, NCC, Private Practice, Houston, TX
Rustin Carter, MD, UTHealth, Houston, TX
Vanessa Schick, PhD, Division of Management, Policy and Community Health, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, TX
Melissa H. Stigler, PhD, School of Public Health, Austin Regional Campus, University of Texas, Austin, TX
Introduction: Health disparities exist among sexual minority women (SMW) compared to heterosexual women. Previous research suggests SMW are at a higher risk for diseases due to delayed screening and fear of coming out to physical healthcare providers (PHP). We examined the association between degree of outness to PHP and physical health among SMW.

Methods: Participants were recruited from the Creating Change Conference, January 29-February 2, 2014 in Houston, TX and online through March 1, 2014. Eligible respondents were at least 18 years old, consented to the survey, and self-identified as SMW. Physical health was measured using the Short Form 12 Health Survey, Physical Component Scale (PCS). PCS>50 denotes better than average physical health. Degree of outness to PHP was measured by the Outness Inventory which ranges from definitely does not know to definitely knows about sexual orientation.

Results: 133 self-identified SMW completed the survey (61 lesbian, 53 bisexual, and 19 queer/non-heterosexual). Using multivariable logistic models, those who were out to their PHP were over 11 times more likely to be in better than average health than those who were less out (p=0.002) after adjusting for age, BMI, current smoking status, alcohol use, insurance status, education, relationship status, sexual orientation group, and mental health status.

Conclusion: These results indicate that being more “out” and open about sexual orientation with your PHP is associated with better health for SMW after controlling for other demographic factors and possible confounders. Further research is necessary to establish the effect of coming out on general health.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Administration, management, leadership
Advocacy for health and health education
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Diversity and culture

Learning Objectives:
Compare physical health of sexual minority women between those who are out about their sexual orientation to their physical health provider versus those who are not.

Keyword(s): Health Disparities/Inequities, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT)

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Principal Investigator for this research project and have IRB approval through UT School of Public Health where I am currently a PhD candidate in Epidemiology. We collected data on physical health, mental health, and minority stress among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals.
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.