Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center, a non-profit organization serving the LGBT Community of the Greater Lehigh Valley, collected data through an LGBT Wellness Needs Assessment conducted in June 2015. The data indicates that there are serious health disparities for the LGBT community in the Lehigh Valley.
The data demonstrates that LGBT people in the Lehigh Valley have a greater prevalence of health problems and risk behaviors than their heterosexual, cisgender peers. Specifically, LGBT people in the region have higher rates of cigarette smoking, obesity, and cancer diagnoses than the general population. LGBT women in the region are less likely to have a mammography or a cervical cancer pap smear on time than women from the general population.
Some of the reasons for the disparities are the result of negative experiences with health care providers. 24% of the LGBT community in the sample indicated that they’ve had negative reactions from their healthcare providers due to their LGBT status, and 11% said that they fear going to a healthcare provider because of potential negative reactions.
The data does provide some glimmers of hope. For example, 60% of cigarette smokers in the sample reported that they would like to quit in the next year, 64% of the sample said they are interested in healthy eating strategies, and 63% are interested in active living strategies.
“One of the biggest challenges for the LGBT community is the lack of data that has been compiled over time. We are proud to have conducted this survey and commissioned this report so that we know what issues are most pressing for our community. Now that we know, we plan to work with our community partners to address some of these issues and encourage LGBT people to live healthier lives” commented Adrian Shanker, Executive Director, Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center.
The sample included 614 self-identified LGBT people in Lehigh, Northampton, Carbon, Berks, and Monroe Counties during a three-week period in June 2015. The surveys were completed electronically. The project was commissioned by Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center, with funding from the PA Department of Health and Tobacco Free Northeast PA. The data analysis was completed by Robert W.S. Coulter, MPH at the University of Pittsburgh. The survey was created by Scout, Ph.D at LGBT Healthlink.