Men’s Sexual Orientation and Health in Canada

D. J. Brennan, L. E. Ross, C. Dobinson, S. Velhuizen, L. S. Steele


Objectives: Previous large-scale population studies have reported that gay and bisexual men may be at increased risk for health disparities. This study was conducted to determine whether health status and health risk behaviours of Canadian men vary based on sexual orientation identity.
Methods: Utilizing the Canadian Community Health Survey data (Cycle 2.1, 2003; n=49,901), we conducted multivariable logistic regression to assess the independent effects of sexual orientation on health status and health risk behaviours. For all multivariate models, we calculated odds ratios, p-values, standard errors, and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) using the bootstrap re-sampling procedure recommended by Statistics Canada.
Results: When compared to heterosexual men, gay and bisexual men did not report more respiratory conditions; had lower rates of obesity and overweight BMI; and reported more mood/anxiety disorders, and a history of lifetime suicidality. Gay and bisexual men did not report higher rates of daily smoking or risky drinking, however, gay men reported an almost six-fold increase in STD diagnoses when compared to heterosexual men.
Conclusion: This study represents the largest-known population-based data analysis on health risks and behaviours among men of varying sexual orientations. These findings raise important concerns regarding the impact of sexual orientation on mental and sexual health. Limitations of this data set, including those associated with measurement of sexual orientation, are discussed. Further research is required to understand the mechanisms that influence these health resiliencies and disparities.
Key words: Health disparities; homosexuality; gay men; bisexual men; health behaviors; general population sample; sexual identity

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