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COVID-19 pandemic may have distinct health consequences for sexual minority adults

The findings support and further legitimize calls for more comprehensive surveillance and cultural responsiveness in emergency preparedness as it relates to sexual minority people and the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The effects of COVID-19 on sexual minorities differ, according to a study that appeared in LGBT Health.

In “Sexual Minority Disparities in Health and Well-being as a Consequence of the COVID-19 Pandemic Differ by Sexual Identity” – by Jessica N. Fish, John Salerno, Natasha D. Williams, R. Gordon Rinderknecht, Kelsey J. Drotning, Liana Sayer, and Long Doan – it was noted that the COVID-19 pandemic “has accentuated long-standing population health disparities”. However, “the pandemic and its social consequences may differentially impact sexual minority adults, relative to heterosexual adults.”

The researchers, therefore, used data from a US national sample of adults (n = 2996; 18.06%) collected from online panels from April to May 2020. They used eight indicators of well-being—mental health, physical health, quality of life, stress, loneliness, psychological distress, alcohol use, and fatigue—to assess the degree to which sexual identity subgroups (i.e. heterosexual, gay/lesbian, bisexual, and “other” sexual minority) varied in retrospective pre- and postpandemic onset indicators of well-being and whether groups varied in their rate of change from pre- and postpandemic onset.

The results showed consistent patterns of decline in well-being across sexual identity subgroups, although changes in mental health, physical health, quality of life, stress, and psychological distress were more robust among sexual minority adults in general, relative to heterosexual adults.

Adjusted multivariate models testing differences in change in retrospective pre- and postpandemic onset found that well-being among bisexual men and women was most negatively impacted by the pandemic.

For the researchers, “despite existent health and mental health disparities faced by sexual minority persons, the COVID-19 pandemic appears to have distinct ramifications for sexual minority adults.”

As such, “the findings support and further legitimize calls for more comprehensive surveillance and cultural responsiveness in emergency preparedness as it relates to sexual minority people and the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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