Does Sexual Orientation Complicate the Relationship Between Marital Status and Self-Rated Health?

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 14:29
Location: Hörsaal 32 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Bridget GORMAN, Rice University, USA
A large literature has established that health status varies by marital status, and that the apparent health benefits associated with living in a marital union vary in strength between men and women.  A growing body of work is also detailing how the health status of adults living in same sex relationships compares to adults living in different-sex relationships – but due to current data limitations, very little existing research examines how health varies across detailed marital status categories for gay, lesbian, and bisexual adults. Our study contributes to this line of scholarship by drawing on aggregated data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), a repeated cross-sectional survey implemented by public health departments in each U.S. state each year.  Our project contacted BRFSS coordinators for all 50 states, and for varying years between 2000 and 2010 identified 15 states that opted to add a question on self-identified sexual orientation to their BRFSS questionnaire.  This allowed us to construct a probability-drawn sample of 13, 628  sexual minority (gay, lesbian, and bisexual) and 543, 384 heterosexual adults.  This paper is investigating whether and how the relationship between self-report health and marital status (including married, divorced or separated, widowed, and never married adults, as well as those who report being a member of an unmarried couple) varies by sexual orientation. Additionally, we assess whether these relationships operate differently for men and women.