Older LGB Latinx Californians are 7 times more likely than their straight Latinx peers to experience psychological distress

New research from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law finds that Latinx older adults in California are similar to their non-LGB peers in many ways. However, LGB Latinx older adults are seven times more likely than their non-LGB peers to experience serious psychological distress.

Researchers analyzed data from the 2015-2016 California Health Interview Survey to examine the health disparities of older adults (age 50 and older) by sexual identity and Latinx ethnicity.

Results show that among Latinx older adults, LGB people had higher rates of psychological distress compared with straight people.  Among non-Latinx older adults, there were no health disparities by sexual identity. Among both LGB and straight older adults, people who had a Latinx identity were more likely than their non-Latinx peers to have poor health, diabetes, and obesity.

“These findings suggest Latinx identity has a great impact on health disparities among older Californians,” said lead author Soon Kyu Choi, Project Manager at the Williams Institute.

Key Findings

  • Among LGB older adults, more Latinx than non-Latinx people experienced poverty (67% vs 26%), had a high school education or less (86% vs 45%), and were born outside of the U.S. (60% vs 16%).
  • Among LGB older adults, three times as many Latinx people had poor health, six times more had serious psychological distress, and about three times more had diabetes compared with non-Latinx people.
  • Among Latinx older adults, more LGB than non-LGB people experienced serious psychological distress. However, there were no differences in experiences of serious psychological distress among non-Latinx people.
  • Although there were other health disparities between LGB and non-LGB Latinx adults, the differences were driven by factors other than sexual identity, such as poverty and older age.

“Contradicting some previous studies, the results did not show a disparity in psychological distress between LGB and straight non-Latinx people,” said study author Ilan H. Meyer, Distinguished Senior Scholar of Public Policy at the Williams Institute. “However, within California’s LGB community, Latinx people showed poorer health outcomes than non-Latinx people. It’s important that public health officials and policymakers focus on the intersection of sexual identity and race/ethnicity when designing interventions.”

February 4, 2021

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