Disparities in psychological distress impacting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender cancer survivors.

Author(s): Kamen C,  Mustian KM,  Dozier A,  Bowen DJ,  Li Y

Journal: Psychooncology

Date: 2015 Nov

Major Program(s) or Research Group(s): NCORP

PubMed ID: 25630987

PMC ID: PMC4517981

Abstract: OBJECTIVE: Recent studies have highlighted disparities in cancer diagnosis between lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) and heterosexual adults. Studies have yet to examine disparities between LGBT and heterosexual cancer survivors in prevalence of psychological distress. METHODS: Data for the current study were drawn from the LIVESTRONG dataset, a US national survey that sampled 207 LGBT and 4899 heterosexual cancer survivors (all cancer types, 63.5% women, mean age 49) in 2010. Symptoms of psychological distress were assessed with dichotomous yes/no items in three symptom clusters (depression related to cancer, difficulties with social relationships post-cancer, fatigue/energy problems). We selected a sample of 621 heterosexual survivors matched by propensity score to the 207 LGBT survivors and assessed disparities in count of symptoms using Poisson regression. We also performed subgroup analyses by self-reported sex. RESULTS: Relative to heterosexuals, LGBT cancer survivors reported a higher number of depression and relationship difficulty symptoms. Exploratory analyses revealed that disparities in number of symptoms were visible between gay, bisexual, and transgender versus heterosexual men but not between lesbian, bisexual, and transgender versus heterosexual women. CONCLUSIONS: This study highlights several disparities in psychological distress that exist between LGBT and heterosexual survivors. A need remains for interventions tailored to LGBT survivors and for studies examining disparities within subgroups of LGBT survivors.