Self-assessment of health status among lesbian, gay, and bisexual cancer survivors in the United States

Yannan Li, Nicholas Theodoropoulos, Yu Fujiwara, Hui Xie, Qian Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Research is lacking for understanding the health disparities in cancer survivorship in the lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) population in the United States. Self-reported health status is used as a predictor of health disparities. Methods: This secondary data analysis study used 2018 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data to analyze cancer survivorship characteristics by sexual orientation and sex through the use of logistic regressions. Results: Overall, 17,656,329 US cancer survivors were included in this study after weighting, with percentage estimates of 1.52% for gays/lesbians and 1.41% for bisexuals. LGB participants were younger and more ethnically diverse. Significantly, bisexuals had current smoking (32.3% vs 13.6%) and binge drinking rates (17.1% vs 9.1%) twice those of heterosexuals; 16.6% of bisexuals versus 4.1% of heterosexuals reported no health insurance coverage (P <.0001). After adjustments for socioeconomic, health-related behavioral risk, and health care access factors, bisexual females reported poorer general health (odds ratio [OR], 1.33; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.31-1.36) as well as mental health (OR, 2.43; 95% CI, 2.39-2.46) than their heterosexual peers (P <.0001). Bisexual males were 5.14 times more likely to be told that they had depressive disorders than their heterosexual counterparts (95% CI, 5.05-5.23), whereas bisexual females were 3.23 times more likely for the same outcome (95% CI, 3.18-3.28). All LGB groups reported significantly more inadequate sleep than their heterosexual counterparts (especially lesbians: OR, 2.14; 95% CI, 2.10-2.18). Conclusions: This study indicates that LGB cancer survivors have worse survivorship than their heterosexual peers with heterogeneity in subgroups. Future studies should use larger sample sizes, further investigate disparities, and promote survivorship in LGB populations. Lay Summary: It has been observed that lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) cancer survivors may face challenges in cancer survivorship that are not as prevalent in the heterosexual community. This cross-sectional study has found that LGB cancer survivors, especially bisexuals, have overall poorer physical and mental health, are more likely to be told that they have depressive disorders, and have worse sleep quality in comparison with their heterosexual counterparts. These results also differ by sex, and this can provide rationales for future studies and guide interventions to relocate resources to better promote equality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4594-4601
Number of pages8
Issue number24
StatePublished - 15 Dec 2021


  • bisexuality
  • cancer
  • gay
  • health promotion
  • lesbian
  • self-reported health outcomes
  • survivorship


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