Caregiving Status and Health of Heterosexual, Sexual Minority, and Transgender Adults: Results From Select U.S. Regions in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System 2015 and 2016

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Quantitative Health Sciences

Publication Date


Document Type



Epidemiology | Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Communication | Health Services Administration | Health Services Research


Background and Objectives: Insufficient research attention has been paid to the diversity of informal caregivers, including sexual and gender minority caregivers. This study examined health effects of caregiving separately from sexual orientation or gender identity status, while stratifying by gender among cisgender adults. We hypothesized that compared with heterosexual cisgender noncaregivers, heterosexual caregivers and lesbian/gay/bisexual (LGB), and transgender (T) noncaregivers would report poorer health outcomes (i.e., self-reported health, and poor mental health days and poor physical health days), and LGBT caregivers would report the worst health outcomes.

Research Design and Methods: This is a secondary data analysis of the 2015 and 2016 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data from 19 U.S. states.

Results: After adjusting for covariates and stratifying by gender among the cisgender sample, heterosexual caregivers, LGB noncaregivers and LGB caregivers had significantly higher odds of self-reported fair or poor health (adjusted odds ratios [aORs] 1.3-2.0 for women and 1.2 for men), poor physical health days (aORs 1.2-2.8 for women and 1.3-2.8 for men), and poor mental health days (aORs 1.4-4.7 for women and 1.5-5.6 for men) compared with heterosexual noncaregivers (reference group). By contrast, transgender caregivers did not have significantly poorer health than cisgender noncaregivers.

Discussion and Implications: LGB caregivers reported the worst health compared with other groups on multiple measures, signifying they are an at-risk population. These results suggest the necessity to develop LGB appropriate services and programs to prevent poor health in LGB caregivers. Existing policies should also be inclusive of LGBT individuals who are caregivers.


Caregiving—informal, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Health, adult, bisexuality, caregivers, gender identity, heterosexuality, homosexuality, female homosexuality, mental health, gender, physical health, sexual orientation, health outcomes, behavioral risk factor surveillance system, lgbt persons, transgender persons, self-report, secondary data analysis

DOI of Published Version



Gerontologist. 2018 Sep 12. pii: 5095701. doi: 10.1093/geront/gny109. [Epub ahead of print] Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

The Gerontologist

PubMed ID


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Link to Article in PubMed