Physical health indicators among lesbian, gay, and bisexual U.S. veterans.

Published: May 17, 2013


To provide information about lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) veterans’ health status, diagnoses, and health screening behaviors compared with heterosexual veterans.

Data are from 10 states’ 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System surveys that contained sexual orientation data for veterans (n = 11,665). χ2 tests and multiple logistic regression were used to examine outcomes among LGB and heterosexual veterans.

More LGB than heterosexual veterans reported current smoking, not seeking medical care owing to cost, and activity limitations. Compared with heterosexual veterans, LGB veterans had greater odds of ever having an human immunodeficiency virus test (odds ratio [OR], 5.42; 95% confidence interval [CI], 3.28-8.96) but lower odds of diabetes diagnosis (OR, 0.55; 95% CI, 0.34-0.89).

Findings from this sample suggest patterns of health behaviors and outcomes among LGB veterans that are both unique from and similar to results from general samples of LGB persons. With the formal end of the "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" policy that discriminated against LGB people in the military, institutions such as the Department of Veterans Affairs are likely to see an increase in its current population of LGB veterans. The Department of Veterans Affairs stands in a unique place to meet the health equity needs of this minority population.

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