MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Brittany M. Charlton, ScD, Assistant Professor
Harvard Medical School
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Boston Children’s Hospital
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Research has shown that nearly half of all sexual minorities (e.g., lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals) experience employment discrimination in their lifetime, which may lead to many other disparities, including health insurance coverage, healthcare access, and ultimately health-related quality of life (e.g., pain, anxiety).
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: Our study found that sexual minorities were about twice as likely as their heterosexual peers to have been unemployed and uninsured. Sexual minorities also had worse health-related quality of life than heterosexuals.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Using research like this to document such disparities can provide policymakers with evidence to inform legislation that can lessen health inequities. For example, over half of the states across the United States currently have no employment non-discrimination law covering sexual orientation. Documenting the downstream consequences of unemployment— health insurance, healthcare access and health-related quality of life—can aid policymakers in crafting the necessary legal changes to lessen these inequities, such as federal employment non-discrimination laws.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: Future research could explore more nuanced types of health insurance coverage as well as other aspects of healthcare access. For example, negative or discriminatory interactions with healthcare providers may delay sexual minorities from seeking care. Understanding what the largest barriers are to timely care will ensure all people get the care they need. That kind of research could provide evidence that we need to close health insurance gaps or change how healthcare providers are trained to care for sexual minorities.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Response: Until all people, regardless of sexual orientation, are treated equally in the eyes of the law, including with non-discrimination laws protecting employment as well as housing, public accommodations and credit/lending, sexual orientation-related health disparities will persist.
Charlton BM, Gordon AR, Reisner SL, et al. Sexual orientation-related disparities in employment, health insurance, healthcare access and health-related quality of life: a cohort study of US male and female adolescents and young adults. BMJ Open 2018;8:e020418. doi:10.1136/ bmjopen-2017-020418
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