Vickie Mayes, PhD., et al, Heterogeneity of Health Disparities Among African American, Hispanic and Asian American Women: Unrecognized Influences of Sexual Orientation, 92 American Journal of Health 632 (April 2002)

White Papers and Reports

This study compared health indicators, health status, behavioral risks and access barriers among self-identified African American, Hispanic, Asian-Americana and white lesbian/bisexual and heterosexual women in Los Angeles county. Among the racial groups, regardless of sexual orientation, African American, Hispanic and Asian American women had worse health outcomes than white women for example, less access to preventative services. Hispanic and African American women overall had lower life expectancies, higher death rates from heart disease and greater levels of overweight and obesity than white women. The effect of sexual orientation across racial groups, however, is that self-identified lesbians and bisexuals are less likely to receive preventative health services, more likely to be overweight, and more likely to engage in risky behavior, such as smoking and heavy alcohol consumption, than their heterosexual counterparts. The results of the study underscore the importance of considering factors that are not recognized as influential in women’s health such as sex, social, cultural, and economic power. More studies that capture sexual orientation as a health factor are needed.