Gay and bisexual men and women may be less likely to take prescribed medications for high blood pressure, with the gap has been widening in recent years.
This is according to a preliminary study – “Disparities In Hypertension Medication Adherence Across Sexual Orientations” by Syed Hyder, Samantha A Schoenl and Onoriode Kesiena – that has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal.
For this study, the researchers noted that the LGBTQIA community, as a whole, “faces unique psychosocial stressors and barriers in access to care.” And so they sought to characterize the difference in hypertension (HTN) medication adherence between LGBTQIA and straight men, and the difference between LGBTQIA and straight women.
The researchers examined 1,905 self-identifying men and 2,349 women, who selected “gay” or “bisexual”, and 66,938 men and 76,464 women, who selected “straight”, for sexual orientation in response to the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from 2016-2021.
Other sexual orientations included under the umbrella term, LGBTQIA, were not listed as options on the NHIS survey. Unpaired t-test was used to compare the study groups and linear regression was used to calculate slope (m) of the trendline. Statistical analysis was weighted for population size.
The study found:
- Gay/bisexual men had significantly lower rates of HTN medication adherence compared to straight men. 78% of heterosexual men said they took prescribed medication for high blood pressure, compared to 70% of gay or bisexual men.
- The difference in HTN medication adherence between gay/bisexual women and straight women was also statistically significant. 82% of straight women were taking their medication, compared to 72% of gay and bisexual women.
- Adherence in both gay/bisexual and straight groups trended upward since 2016; however, the upward trend was steeper for straight men and women compared to gay/bisexual men and women. Specifically: adherence increased 4.2% among straight men, compared to 4% for gay and bisexual men. Among straight women, adherence increased 3.6%, while adherence among gay or bisexual women was varied over the five years, with 2016 showing the highest rate of adherence. This resulted in a 5.2% drop from 2016 to 2020, even if the five-year moving average trended upward.
Overall, the findings “display significantly lower rates of HTN medication adherence between males and females who identify as gay/bisexual compared to those that identify as straight,” the researchers noted.
Sadly, since 2016, “the gap in medication adherence between gay/bisexual and straight has continued to widen. And as medical systems strive to reduce health disparities across various marginalized groups, further research is needed to delineate potential sources for this difference and devise solutions.”