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J Homosex. 2017;64(1):32-44. Epub 2016 Apr 13.

Disparities in Physical Health Conditions Among Lesbian and Bisexual Women: A Systematic Review of Population-Based Studies.

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a Department of Psychology , University of Washington , Seattle , Washington , USA.
b Division of Global Public Health , University of California San Diego, School of Medicine , San Diego , California , USA.
c Department of Psychology , University of Montana , Missoula , Montana , USA.
d Health Services Research and Development, VA Puget Sound Health Care System, Seattle, Washington, USA; and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences , University of Washington , Seattle , Washington , USA.
e School of Social Work , University of Washington , Seattle , Washington , USA.


We conducted a systematic review to assess evidence for disparities for lesbian and bisexual women (i.e., sexual minority women [SMW]) in comparison with heterosexual women across a range of nine physical health conditions. Among the k = 11 studies meeting eligibility criteria, almost every comparison (i.e., heterosexual vs. (a) lesbian, (b) bisexual, or (c) both lesbian and bisexual women) was in a direction indicating SMW disparities. Despite limited power due to small samples of SMW, we found evidence of disparities as indicated by a statistically significant adjusted odds ratios for asthma (5 of 7 comparisons), obesity (8 of 12), arthritis (2 of 3), global ratings of physical health (4 of 7), and cardiovascular disease (1 of 1). Evidence was lacking for cancer (1 of 4), diabetes and hypertension (both 1 of 5), and high cholesterol (0 of 3). Future work should confirm findings in more diverse, larger samples and should examine potential explanatory factors.


Bisexual women; LGBT; lesbian; physical health disparities; systematic review

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