2018 Voices of Health Survey Data Continues to Show Significant LGBTQ+ Health Disparities

Originally Published: 04/28/2019
Progress has been made combating tobacco use; physical and mental health disparities continue to occur at high rates in the LGBTQ community

JustUs Health released its annual Voices of Health survey of LGBTQ health in Minnesota which includes the lived experiences of more than 1,200 LGBTQ Minnesotans. The survey has been conducted every year since 2010 and is the only such health survey in Minnesota. Detailed information and the full report can be accessed on the JustUs Health website.

Highlights of this year’s survey data include the following observations:

  • 3 out of 4 LGBTQ people who took the survey were experiencing moderate to severe mental health distress at the time they participated.
  • 60% of respondents have experienced unwanted physical sexual activity in their lifetime.
  • Nearly 10% of respondents have had a provider refuse to treat them in their lifetime because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • 33% of LGBTQ respondents indicated that they needed to educate their provider in order to get appropriate care in their lifetime with 10% of respondents indicating this occurred in the past 12 months.
  • Inappropriate or unnecessarily invasive questions about their sexual orientation or gender identity were asked of more than 1 out of 4 respondents during their lifetime when the gender or orientation was unrelated to purpose of their visit.
  • One area of notable improvement comes from survey results that indicate LGBTQ people now smoke at a rate of 15% compared to a CDC reported average 13.8% for the population at large. This is the first time in this survey’s history where the smoking rate of the LGBTQ community is at a statistical tie with the general population showing that anti-smoking efforts are having an impact.
  • 3 out of 4 LGBTQ people who took the survey were experiencing moderate to severe mental health distress at the time they participated.

“We continue to combat real and significant lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer health disparities on many fronts through our advocacy, community education, and direct client services,” said Jeremy Hanson Willis, CEO of JustUs Health. “This survey research has helped us identify and respond to community needs by opening a behavioral health clinic that directly serves LGBTQ communities. This innovative clinic is an outstanding example of how data can translate develop vital services that fill important gaps that aren’t being addressed.”

JustUs Health was created in 2018 through the merger of the Minnesota AIDS Project and Rainbow Health Initiative. The agency’s work now also incorporates the education curriculum of nationally recognized Training to Serve to help address the increasing needs of the LGBT aging population. The combined agency’s mission is to lead the work to achieve health equity for diverse gender, sexual, and cultural communities.

The merger laid the groundwork for the launch of JustUs Behavioral Health clinic in March 2018 which now offers mental, chemical and sexual health services for LGBTQ people, from communities impacted by HIV, and those facing barriers to behavioral health support. When combined with JustUs Health’s HIV prevention, care coordination, education and support services, the agency offers a continuum of comprehensive and integrated health services in a safe and supportive environment. No client is turned away due to an inability to pay for services at JustUs Behavioral Health. In-network insurance payment is accepted by UCare, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, Medical Assistance & MNCare, Program HH, South Country Health Alliance, Fairview/Behavioral Healthcare Providers, Medicare, Hennepin Health, United Behavioral Health/Medica (Optum), and BluePlus.

JustUs Health’s research and advocacy initiatives also help identify and address the issues clients have faced in the broader health care system.