Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 109, Issue 5–6, pp 833–844 | Cite as

Physical and mental health inequalities among aging lesbian, gay, and bisexual Canadians: cross-sectional results from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA)

  • Arne StinchcombeEmail author
  • Kimberley Wilson
  • Katherine Kortes-Miller
  • Lori Chambers
  • Bruce Weaver
Quantitative Research



International estimates suggest the presence of health inequalities among older sexual minorities (i.e., individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual and are 65 years old or above). In this study, we investigated the presence of health inequalities among aging lesbian and bisexual females, as well as aging gay and bisexual males in Canada.


We used baseline data from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) Tracking and Comprehensive cohorts to cross-sectionally compare self-reported physical and mental health indicators by sex and sexual orientation. Within our analysis sample of 51,208 Canadians 45 years old and over, 2% (n = 1057) of respondents identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual.


Compared to heterosexual female peers, lesbian and bisexual females had greater odds of heavy drinking (AOR = 1.8, 95% CI = 1.3–2.4) and being a former smoker (AOR = 1.5, 95% CI = 1.2–1.9). Gay and bisexual males had greater odds of reporting a diagnosis of cancer (AOR = 1.5, 95% CI = 1.0–1.9) and currently smoking (AOR = 1.5, 95% CI = 1.1–2.0), compared to heterosexual males. Female and male sexual minorities had greater odds of reporting mood disorders (including depression) and anxiety disorders relative to heterosexual peers of the same sex.


These findings highlight the importance of considering both sex and sexual orientation when developing approaches to support the physical and mental health of a diverse aging population in Canada.


Aged Sexual and gender minorities Mental health Gays Lesbians Bisexuals CLSA 



Les estimations internationales suggèrent la présence d’inégalités de santé parmi les minorités sexuelles plus âgées (c’est-à-dire, les personnes ayant 65 ans ou plus et s’identifiant comme étant lesbiennes, gays ou bisexuelles). Dans cette étude, nous avons enquêté la présence d’inégalités en matière de santé chez les femmes lesbiennes et bisexuelles vieillissantes, ainsi que chez les hommes gais et bisexuels vieillissants, au Canada.


Nous avons utilisé des données de base provenant des cohortes de suivi et des cohortes compréhensives de l’Étude longitudinale canadienne sur le vieillissement (ÉLCV) pour comparer de façon transversale les indicateurs de santé physique et mentale autodéclarés selon le sexe et l’orientation sexuelle. Dans notre échantillon d’analyse de 51 208 Canadiens âgés de 45 ans et plus, 2 % (n = 1057) des répondants ont déclaré être lesbiennes, gays ou bisexuels.


Comparativement aux femmes hétérosexuelles, les femmes lesbiennes et bisexuelles étaient plus probables de consommer l’alcool de manière excessive (AOR = 1,8, IC 95% = 1,3–2,4) et d’être d’anciennes fumeuses (AOR = 1,5, IC 95% = 1,2–1,9). Les hommes gais et bisexuels avaient plus de chances de déclarer un diagnostic de cancer (AOR = 1,5, IC 95% = 1,0–1,9) et d’être fumeurs actuels (AOR = 1,5, IC 95% = 1,1–2,0), comparativement aux hommes hétérosexuels. Les minorités sexuelles féminines et masculines étaient plus susceptibles de déclarer des troubles de l’humeur (y compris la dépression) et des troubles anxieux, par rapport aux pairs hétérosexuels du même sexe.


Ces résultats soulignent l’importance de tenir compte à la fois du sexe et de l’orientation sexuelle lors de l’élaboration d’approches visant à soutenir la santé physique et mentale d’une population vieillissante diversifiée au Canada.


Âgé Minorités sexuelles et de genre Santé mentale Gays, lesbiennes, bisexuels ÉLCV 



This research was made possible using the data/biospecimens collected by the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA). Funding for the CLSA is provided by the Government of Canada through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) under grant reference: LSA 9447 and the Canada Foundation for Innovation. This research has been conducted using the CLSA dataset Baseline Tracking Dataset version 3.2, Baseline Comprehensive Dataset version 3.1, under Application Number 170321. The CLSA is led by Drs. Parminder Raina, Christina Wolfson, and Susan Kirkland. This project was funded through a CIHR Catalyst grant (FRN 151288) awarded to Dr. Arne Stinchcombe.

Compliance with ethical standards

The CLSA was approved by Research Ethics Boards (REBs) in different provinces, and the University of Ottawa REB approved the analyses presented here. Written informed consent was obtained for all participants.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Human SciencesSaint Paul UniversityOttawaCanada
  2. 2.School of PsychologyUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  3. 3.Department of Family Relations and Applied NutritionUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada
  4. 4.School of Social WorkLakehead UniversityThunder BayCanada
  5. 5.Centre for Education and Research on Aging & Health (CERAH)Lakehead UniversityThunder BayCanada
  6. 6.Department of Women’s StudiesLakehead UniversityThunder BayCanada
  7. 7.Human Sciences DivisionNorthern Ontario School of Medicine (West Campus)Thunder BayCanada

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