Veterans administration health care utilization among sexual minority veterans

Tracy L. Simpson, Kimberly F. Balsam, Bryan N. Cochran, Keren Lehavot, Sari D. Gold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations

Abstract

According to recent census reports, nearly a million veterans have a same-sex partner, yet little is known about them or their use of Veterans Health Care Administration (VHA) services. Gay, lesbian, and bisexual (GLB) veterans recruited from the community (N = 356) completed an on-line survey to assess their rates of VHA utilization and whether they experience specific barriers to accessing VHA services. Andersen's model of health care utilization was adapted to provide an analytic and conceptual framework. Overall, 45.5% reported lifetime VHA utilization and 28.7% reported past-year VHA utilization. Lifetime VHA health care utilization was predicted by positive service connection, positive screen for both posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, and history of at least one interpersonal trauma during military service related to respondent's GLB status. Past-year VHA health care utilization was predicted by female gender, positive service connection, positive screen for both PTSD and depression, lower physical functioning, a history of military interpersonal trauma related to GLB status, and no history of stressful experiences initiated by the military to investigate or punish GLB status. Rates of VHA utilization by GLB veterans in this sample are comparable to those reported by VHA Central Office for all veterans. Of those who utilized VHA services, 33% reported open communication about their sexual orientation with VHA providers. Twenty-five percent of all participants reported avoiding at least one VHA service because of concerns about stigma. Stigma and lack of communication between GLB veterans and their providers about sexual orientation are areas of concern for VHA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-232
Number of pages10
JournalPsychological Services
Volume10
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2013

Keywords

  • Bisexual
  • Gay
  • Health care utilization
  • Lesbian
  • Veterans

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