Health survey finds lesbian and gay Scots face drink problems

Analysis of official Scottish health survey findings shows lesbians and gays drink at hazardous or harmful levels, as well as possibly facing a problem with smoking  

Health survey finds lesbian and gay Scots face drink problems
31 October 2012

Scotland’s chief statistician today announced the publication of a Scottish Health Survey topic report on ‘equality groups’.

The report found that respondents who identify as lesbian and gay drank and smoke more than the average general population.

Equality campaigners called upon the Scottish government to expand future research and better address health needs of the LGBT community in the country.

The report includes data on health behaviours and health characteristics broken down by sexual orientation as well as gender, age, ethnic group, religion, and disability.

The report, that was published yesterday, combined survey data from four consecutive years (2008-2011) to produce an analysis of minority groups in Scotland.

With regards to sexual orientation, the survey used five categories of sexuality: heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual and ‘other’, gender identity was not included as a category.

The report found that Lesbian, gay respondents were significantly more likely to drink at hazardous or harmful levels than the national average.

Lesbian, gay and bisexual respondents had a slightly higher smoking prevalence than heterosexuals, although this wasn’t statistically significant.

Those who self-identified as having an ‘other’ sexual orientation were significantly more likely to smoke than heterosexual respondents.

Gay, lesbian bisexual smokers smoked significantly more than the national average.

The survey stated that this trend ‘corroborates with other research that found that lesbians and gay men may be at increased risk due to high levels of drinking and smoking’.

Lesbian and gay respondent showed no significant difference in reporting mental health problems to the national average.

Respondents identifying as bisexual, ‘other’ or refused to provide details on their sexual orientation reported significantly less well-being and mental health than the general population.

With regards to diet, lesbian and gay respondents ate slightly more healthy diet than heterosexual respondents, although this wasn’t statistically significant.

Respondents identifying as bisexual, ‘other’ or refused to provide details on their sexual orientation ate a significantly less healthy diet than the national average.

Lesbian or gay were significantly less likely to have diabetes than the national average.

Speaking with Gay Star News, Colin MacFarlane, chair of Stonewall Scotland said: ‘The Scottish government survey complement what Stonewall Scotland’s evidence in our Gay Men’s Health and Lesbian’s Women’s Health reports already tells us.

‘Our reports found hard evidence that lesbian, bisexual and gay Scots are being let down by health services which often see homosexuality and bisexuality purely as sexual health issues.

‘As a result hundreds of thousands of lesbian, gay and bisexual Scots are in dire need of better support from health professionals.

‘These latest statistics further underline the message that Scotland’s health services need to rethink how they approach many of their patients and our reports have made a number of recommendations which could help them improve.

‘We hope they will rise to that challenge.’

Commenting on the survey, Tim Hopkins, chair of Scotland’s Equality Network told GSN: ‘The Equality Network is pleased that the Scottish Government have done an equality analysis of the Scottish Health Survey.

‘So far, the sample size of LGB people is small, so the survey may not pick up all the health issues related to the discrimination that LGB people face. And of course targeted research continues to be needed around health issues for transgender people.

‘But this is a step forward, and the next challenge will be to try to identify the reasons for health differences around race, religion, sexual orientation etc.’

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