Health Status, Health Service Use, and Satisfaction According to Sexual Identity of Young Australian Women
journal contributionposted on 27.05.2011, 00:00 by Ruth P. McNair, Laura A. Szalacha, Tonda L. Hughes
Objectives: To compare physical and mental health status, health service use and satisfaction amongst young Australian women of varying sexual identity; and to explore associations of all of these variables with satisfaction with their general practitioner (GP). Methods: Data are from the youngest cohort of women in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women‘s Health surveyed in 2003. The sample included women aged 25-30 who identified as exclusively heterosexual (n=8,083, 91.3%), mainly heterosexual (n=568, 6.4%), bisexual (n=100, 1.1%), or lesbian (n=99, 1.1%). Univariate analyses compared self-reported mental health, physical health, access to GP services and satisfaction across the four sexual identity groups. Linear regression, controlling for education, income and residence, was used to identify factors associated with GP satisfaction. Results: Sexual minority women (lesbian, bisexual and mainly heterosexual) were significantly more likely than were heterosexual women to report poorer mental health and to have more frequently used health services; depression was strongly associated with mental health services use. Bisexual and mainly heterosexual women were most likely to report poorer general health, abnormal Pap tests, STI, UTI, Hepatitis B or C, and asthma. Lesbians were most likely to have never had a Pap test or 2 be under-screened. All sexual minority women had lower continuity of GP care and lower satisfaction with that care than heterosexual women. Conclusions: Underlying social determinants of physical and mental health disparities experienced by sexual minority women require exploration, including the possible effects of discrimination and marginalization on higher levels of risk taking. Lower continuity of care and lower satisfaction with GP services also need further investigation.