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J Public Health Res. 2015 February 20; 4(1): 414.
Published online 2015 February 19. doi:  10.4081/jphr.2015.414
PMCID: PMC4407041

An Examination of Health Inequities among College Students by Sexual Orientation Identity and Sex

Abstract

Background

Lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) college students may have an increased number of health inequities compared to their heterosexual counterparts. However, to date, no research has provided a comprehensive examination of health-related factors by sexual orientation identity and sex among a national sample of college students. Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine physical, sexual, interpersonal relations/safety, and mental health inequities by sexual orientation identity and sex among a national sample of college students.

Design and methods

Participants (n=39,767) completed the National College Health Assessment II during the fall 2008/spring 2009 academic year. Hierarchical binary logistic regression analyses were used to examine health inequities by sexual orientation identity and sex.

Results

LGB students compared to heterosexual students, experienced multiple health inequities including higher rates of being verbally threatened and lower rates of physical activity and condom use.

Conclusions

An understanding of health inequities experienced by LGB college students is critical as during these years of transition, students engage in protective (e.g., physical activity) and risky (e.g., lack of condom use) health behaviours, establishing habits that could last a lifetime. Future research should be used to design and implement targeted public health strategies and policies to reduce health inequities and improve health-related quality of life among LGB college students.

Significance for public health

Health inequities based on sexual orientation identity and sex among college students is a critical public health concern. Based on the results of the current study, lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) college students experienced multiple physical, sexual, interpersonal relations and safety, and mental health inequities. This understanding of health inequities experienced by LGB college students is critical as during these years of transition, students engage in protective (e.g., physical activity) and risky (e.g., lack of condom use) health behaviours, establishing habits that could last a lifetime. By intervening during the college years, targeted public health strategies and policies can be designed and implemented to reduce health inequities and improve health-related quality of life among LGB individuals during mid-to-later adulthood.

Key words: health inequities, college students, lesbian, gay, bisexual, heterosexual

Articles from Journal of Public Health Research are provided here courtesy of PAGEPress