While discrimination against queer people has been known to affect the health of LGBT individuals, a new UBC study has discovered that there are also marked differences in the impact upon people who are gay or lesbian and those who are bisexual.
The findings, published in the American Journal of Public Health, were drawn from the Canadian Community Health Survey, which was conducted between 2007 and 2012 and involved 220,000 participants.
Gay and lesbian Canadians reported about twice the rates of anxiety and mood disorders as heterosexual Canadians. Meanwhile, bisexual Canadians reported up to four times the amount that of heterosexual respondents.
While anxiety disorders were reported by 5.9 percent of heterosexual participants, the numbers were much higher for non-straight respondents: 11.4 percent of homosexual participants and 20.7 of bisexual participants.
Bisexual Canadians reported the highest rates of mood and anxiety disorders and heavy drinking (defined as five or more drinks 12 or more times over the past year).
Heavy drinking was reported by 22.6 percent of heterosexual respondents, 27.9 percent of gay and lesbian respondents, and 30.4 of bisexual respondents. Even more pronounced were the differences between those who reported anxiety or mood disorders coinciding with heavy drinking: 2.3 percent heterosexual, 5.2 percent homosexual, and 10 percent bisexual.
Lead researcher Basia Bakula, a PhD candidate at UBC's School of Population and Public Health, stated in a news release that gay, lesbian, and bisexual people are often combined together in studies, but the results of this study reveal that there are significant differences between these groups.
“There is growing evidence that being the target of micro-aggressions in the form of daily slurs or prejudiced comments can be psychologically damaging," Bakula stated in a news release. "Bisexual people often face a double stigma from within heterosexual and gay or lesbian communities, and lack needed supports.”
Accordingly, Bakula added that any health care aimed at helping these populations need to recognize their unique needs and differences.