Gays and lesbians often seek health care

Aug. 13, 2009 at 7:00 PM
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LOS ANGELES, Aug. 13 (UPI) -- A study finds gay, lesbian and bisexual Californians sought mental health or substance abuse treatment at twice the rate of heterosexuals last year.

The study was conducted by UCLA scientists and involved data from a survey of more than 2,000 Californians.

The researchers found 48.5 percent of gay lesbian or bisexual individuals said they participated in treatment during the past year, compared with 22.5 percent of heterosexuals. Lesbians and bisexual women were most likely to receive treatment and heterosexual men were the least likely.

"It is well known that health services utilization is greater among women generally," researcher Susan Cochran said. "Here we have shown that minority sexual orientation is also an important consideration. Lesbians and bisexual women appear to be approximately twice as likely as heterosexual women to report having received recent treatment for mental health or substance use disorders."

The researchers speculate the increased use of healthcare might be the result of higher exposure to discrimination, violence and other stressful life events.

"The pervasive and historically rooted societal pathologizing of homosexuality may contribute to this propensity for treatment by construing homosexuality and issues associated with it as mental health problems," she added.

The study appears in the journal BMC Psychiatry.

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