LGBT caregivers are younger, less likely to be married, more racially and ethnically diverse, and more likely to be of low socio-economic status than non-LGBT caregivers, according to a new study led by a Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researcher.
The study, published in LGBT Health, looked at caregivers providing unpaid help to adults with serious health problems.
“The demand for caregivers is expected to rise due to the aging of the population and the increase in chronic diseases,” says lead author Dr. Ulrike Boehmer, associate professor of community health sciences at BUSPH. “This makes caregiving a public health issue in urgent need of attention, and our study suggests that among the caregivers are many LGBT individuals about whom we know very little and whose needs are unknown.”
The researchers conducted a secondary analysis of the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) survey with a sample of 1,199 individuals between the ages of 21 and 80 years who answered a question about LBGT status.
The researchers found that participants who identified as LGBT were demographically different from non-LGBT caregivers. Sixteen percent of LGBT caregivers were black and 29 percent were Hispanic, compared to 12 percent and 16 percent, respectively, among non-LGBT caregivers. LGBT caregivers were also equally likely to be women or men, compared to 60 percent of non-LGBT caregivers who are women.
About 52 percent of LGBT caregivers reported financial strain compared to 38 percent of non-LGBT caregivers. LGBT caregivers also suffer from poor health and emotional stress at higher levels than non-LGBT caregivers.
The authors advocated for future national surveys to include questions on sexual orientation and gender identity to provide researchers, program planners, and policymakers with better estimates on LGBT caregivers and their service needs.