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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 29 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 35
LGBT Americans report lower well-being than straights
Section One
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LGBT Americans report lower well-being than straights

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

LGBT Americans report lower levels of well-being than straight Americans, according to a new survey by Gallup-Healthways. The disparities hold true over all the categories of well-being tested by the survey.

Lesbian, Bi, and Trans women report the lowest levels of well-being, even lower than Gay men, and definitely lower than straight men.

These differences persist even after adjusting for the effects of other demographic factors like age, gender, race, ethnicity, education, state of residence, and population density.

The survey was conducted by landline and cell phone interviews between January 1 and June 23, with a random sample of 2,964 LGBT adults and 81,134 straight adults in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Based on the survey responses, Gallup-Healthways calculated 'Well-Being Index Scores' that represent respondents' level of well-being with a numerical value.

According to Gallup, LGBT adults fell four points below straight adults in their Well-Being Index Scores, averaging 58 to straight people's 62. Gay men, however, were only two points short of their straight counterparts, while LBT women fell six points short of straight women.

LBT women also reported lower levels of well-being than Gay men, scoring 57 to 59 for Gay men.

'These disparities associated with sexual orientation and gender identity highlight the ongoing need for the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity measures in data collection focused on health and socio-economic outcomes,' Gallup-Healthways concluded.

'Availability of better data that identify the LGBT population will help researchers, healthcare policymakers, and healthcare providers craft better strategies to understand and prevent well-being disparities associated with sexual orientation and gender identity.'

The survey broke general well-being into five subcategories that were surveyed individually. Again, LGBT respondents reported significantly lower levels of well-being than straight respondents.

Financial Well-Being
'The financial element is where the LGBT community falls furthest behind the non-LGBT population,' Gallup's report says.

Financial well-being was calculated from questions about standard of living, ability to afford basic necessities, and financial worry.

LGBT Americans are 10 points below straight Americans in 'thriving financially,' the study shows. Gay men are eight points below their straight counterparts, but LBT women fall 12 points below straight women.

'These findings are consistent with research from UCLA's Williams Institute,' the study notes, 'which shows that the LGBT population is at a disproportionate risk for poverty and food insecurity.'

Physical Well-Being
Physical well-being is another area in which there are stark differences between LGBT and non-LGBT Americans, particularly among women.

Physical well-being includes questions related to alcohol, drug, and tobacco use; current disease burden and past diagnoses; exercise; and eating habits.

LGBT Americans fall seven points behind our straight neighbors in physical well-being, with LBT women 12 points behind straight women.

A recent analysis by the 2013 National Health Interview Survey reported higher levels of smoking and alcohol consumption among Lesbian and Bi women than among straight women, as well as elevated weight and psychological distress among bisexual women.

Social Well-Being
LGBT Americans are less likely than their straight counterparts to be thriving in their social lives. Social well-being includes questions about relationships with friends and family, personal time, and received encouragement and support.

Thirty-five percent of LGBT adults are thriving socially, compared with 41% of non-LGBT adults. The disparities for Gay men and LBT women were equal.

Community Well-Being
LGBT Americans are less likely than their straight counterparts to be thriving in community well-being, with LGBT respondents falling six points below straight ones.

Community well-being includes questions about community pride, involvement, and safety and security.

The statistical difference for LGBT respondents is largely driven by women. Gay men reported being somewhat less connected to their communities, but LBT women fell nine points behind their straight counterparts.

Purpose Well-Being
Gay men feel they have a strong sense of purpose in their lives at the same rate that straight men do, but LBT women fall eight points behind straight women in this category. Purpose well-being is calculated from questions about having an inspiring leader, daily activity, goals, and strengths.

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