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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Rutgers Study Examines Health Service Utilization Among Gay Men by Age Cohort

Rutgers School of Public Health associate professor of epidemiology Dr. Henry F. Raymond, has led a study examining the impact of age cohort on health service utilization among gay men. The study was conducted to better understand how personal experiences and development of cultural perception impacts an individual’s willingness to seek regular medical attention among different generations of gay males.

[Photo: Dr. Henry F. Raymond]

There are health disparities and unique health-seeking behaviors among gay men, including a reluctance to regularly meet with medical professionals, as compared to their heterosexual counterparts. Due to this reluctance, data shows that gay men live with an elevated risk of acute and chronic health conditions, among other severe medical ailments.

Dr. Raymond and his colleagues, Mr. Daniel C. Green and Dr. Jeremy T. Goldbach from the University of Southern California, worked to uncover any potential differences in health service utilization among three generations of gay men, by exploring if age cohort status influences the likelihood of seeking health services, and how likely an individual is to secure a single regular source of health care, such as a primary care physician.

To acquire the data needed to complete this study, which is among the first of its kind to examine the relevance of age on health service usage among gay men, Dr. Raymond and his colleagues utilized the results of a survey issued to 383 self-identified gay men. The 150-question survey was dedicated to understanding participants’ sexual history over the prior 12 months, as well as health care, substance use, and health care utilization.

Subjects for the survey were acquired via venue-based sampling. Venues were randomly selected from a list of locations known to serve the gay male community, including bars, clubs, health clinics, retail stores and other community places.

According to the study’s findings, the analysis of the survey indicates several interesting generational disparities based on personal experiences with an evolving society. Older gay men who may have been negatively impacted by cultural biases based upon their sexual orientation are less likely to seek regular health services than younger men, who grew up during the post-gay era of the LGBT rights movement, when civil equalities began to take hold. Results showed that gay men who came of age during or shortly after the AIDS pandemic have a higher likelihood of seeking more consistent care. Dr. Raymond and his colleagues were also able to conclude that younger gay men are less likely to limit their health services to a particular source, and are more inclined to use readily available services that do not require appointments or a healthcare history.

“Research about the role age plays in health care service decisions and health care seeking behaviors is expanding, and our study is unique in its analysis of three generations of the gay male community, and the influence varying life experiences can have,” comments Dr. Raymond. “The findings of this study can be of particular use to LGBT community health centers, who can utilize the data to tailor services specific to age cohorts or other subpopulations.”

Age Cohort and Health Service Utilization Among Gay Men” was published in the American Journal of Men’s Health.