Sexual Orientation Differences in Complementary Health Approaches Among Young Adults in the United States


Upchurch, Dawn M.; Krueger, Evan A.; & Wight, Richard G. (2016). Sexual Orientation Differences in Complementary Health Approaches Among Young Adults in the United States. Journal of Adolescent Health. vol. 59 (5) pp. 562-569


AbstractPurpose Lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) young adults experience a wide range of health disparities, compared to heterosexuals. However, LGBs also experience many barriers to conventional health care, including social stigma, lack of LGB-specific knowledge among providers, and lower rates of health insurance coverage, which may limit utilization of conventional health services. Complementary health approaches (CHA) may represent an alternative to conventional care, but very little is currently known about CHA use in this population. We examined whether and how LGB young adults differed from heterosexual young adults in use of CHA. Methods Data were from Wave III of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (2001–2002). Fifteen types of CHA were considered. Descriptive and bivariate statistics were computed using design-based F tests, and logistic regression was used. Analyses were weighted and gender stratified. Results Almost 46% of gay/bisexual men used CHA in the past 12 months versus 26% of heterosexual men (p ≤ .001) and 50% of lesbian/bisexual women versus 30% of heterosexual women (p ≤ .001). LGBs also differed significantly on demographics, access to conventional care, and health behaviors. Multivariate results showed higher odds of CHA among LGBs relative to heterosexuals (adjusted odds ratio = 2.37 for men; adjusted odds ratio = 1.98 for women; both p ≤ .001). Conclusions This is the first study to systematically demonstrate sexual orientation differences in CHA in a nationally representative sample of young adults. Public health wellness initiatives for sexual minorities should include evidence-based CHA in addition to conventional health services.



Sexual orientation Lesbian Gay Bisexual Young adults Complementary and alternative medicine Health care utilization

Reference Type

Journal Article

Journal Title

Journal of Adolescent Health


Upchurch, Dawn M.
Krueger, Evan A.
Wight, Richard G.

Year Published


Volume Number


Issue Number





August 23, 2016





Reference ID