Preventative Health Test Utilization Among Sexual Minorities: A Nationally Representative Population-Based Study
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Little attention has been paid to preventative medical test utilization among sexual minorities and not much attention has been paid to health issues of sexual minorities except in high profile diseases such as HIV/AIDS. Sexual minorities often delay obtaining preventative healthcare because of various barriers such as discrimination, stigmatization within the healthcare system, and due to lack of health insurance coverage. Despite the growing visibility of the LGBTQ community and the July 2015 U.S. Supreme Court landmark decision that extended marriage equality nationwide, health disparities continue to be an ongoing issue within the sexual minority population. The importance of preventative screening is to ultimately reduce morbidity of certain diseases through testing and to identify diseases that could cause mortality if left untreated. There is only a limited number of population-based studies on health disparities among sexual minorities that specifically examine preventative health test utilization. Couching this study in the second demographic transition and the epidemiological transition theories and using the 2013 National Health Interview Survey data from the National Center for Health Statistics, which is among the first to contain nationally representative data on sexual orientation, this research compares participation in preventative health test utilization between the heterosexual and homosexual populations. This research also examines differences in preventative health test utilization among sexual minorities while controlling for confounding sociodemographic variables. Results indicate significant differences in participation levels among the heterosexual and homosexual population in blood pressure, blood glucose, colon cancer, and HIV screenings and testing. Among the homosexual population, findings indicate significant differences in colon cancer screening and HIV testing. These findings contribute to the existing literature by providing a baseline for population-based research on sexual minorities and their utilization of preventative health tests.