Australian Health Review Australian Health Review Society
Journal of the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Health and well being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people aged 50 years and over

Mark Hughes
+ Author Affliations
- Author Affliations

School of Arts and Social Sciences, Southern Cross University, Locked Bag 4, Coolangatta, Qld 4252, Australia. Email: mark.hughes@scu.edu.au

Australian Health Review - https://doi.org/10.1071/AH16200
Submitted: 6 September 2016  Accepted: 9 January 2017   Published online: 7 March 2017

Abstract

Objectives The aim of the present study was to examine the health and well being of older lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, the health issues that concern them, the services they use and challenges accessing services.

Methods This study comprised a survey of the health and well being of 312 LGBTI people aged 50 years and over in New South Wales. The survey included the Short-Form 12 (SF-12) measure of health-related quality of life, the Kessler 10 (K10) measure of psychological distress, and the three-item Loneliness Scale.

Results Higher levels of psychological distress, lower mental health and greater loneliness were found among this sample than is typically found in the general population. Mental health was lower among carers and those not in a relationship, while psychological distress was greater among those living alone and those experiencing higher rates of loneliness. The most commonly accessed health service was a general practitioner (GP), with most respondents reporting that they were open about their sexuality to their GP and that they had a regular GP. Some reported difficulties accessing health services because of their gender or sexual diversity.

Conclusions Although many older LGBTI people are well, both physically and mentally, they do appear to face increased risk of certain health issues compared with the general population.

What is known about the topic? Overseas research indicates that older LGBTI people may be at greater risk of certain physical and mental health conditions than the general population.

What does this paper add? This paper provides Australian data, using well-validated instruments, on the health and well being of older LGBTI people. It provides evidence of the health issues that older LGBTI people are most concerned about and the barriers they face in accessing services.

What are the implications for practitioners? It is important for health practitioners to be aware that older LGBTI people appear to be at increased risk of certain physical and mental health issues, such as loneliness and psychological distress. Providing opportunities for clients to identify their gender or sexual diversity may assist in monitoring risk factors and enable referral to promote healthy aging.


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