(Reuters Health) – Sexual minorities are less likely to be employed or to have health insurance than their straight peers, a new U.S. study suggests.
They are also more likely to report being in poorer health and having a lower quality of life, according to the results published in the online journal BMJ Open.
The study authors suspect these differences from straight peers come down to bias.
“Previous research has shown that nearly half of all sexual minorities experience employment discrimination in their lifetime, which can lead to disparities in health insurance coverage, and ultimately to health-related quality of life,” said lead author Brittany Charlton, an assistant professor at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.
“Our findings highlight the ubiquity of sexual orientation inequalities in the employment and healthcare systems.”
Earlier research that compared cohabiting straight and same-sex couples found that sexual minorities were more likely to be out of work and to be uninsured than their straight counterparts. Charlton and her colleagues wanted to see if those findings held up in a broader sample.
The researchers analyzed responses from nearly 10,000 participants aged 18-32 years taking part in an ongoing study that began in 1996 when the first group enrolled was 9-14 years old. A second wave of participants aged 9-16 years was enrolled in 2004.
Along with a host of lifestyle, health and environmental factors, researchers collected information about sexual identity and orientation in annual surveys. They also collected information on health-related quality of life, and participants were asked to rate their mobility, self-care, capacity for routine activities, levels of pain and discomfort and anxiety and depression.