Sexual orientation and mental and physical health status: Findings from a Dutch population survey

Theo G.M. Sandfort*, Floor Bakker, François G. Schellevis, Ine Vanwesenbeeck

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objectives. We sought to determine whether sexual orientation is related to mental and physical health and health behaviors in the general population. Methods. Data was derived from a health interview survey that was part of the second Dutch National Survey of General Practice, carried out in 2001 among an all-age random sample of the population. Of the 19 685 persons invited to participate, 65% took part in the survey. Sexual orientation was assessed in persons aged 18 years and older and reported by 98.2% of 9684 participants. The respondents' characteristics are comparable with those of the Dutch general population. Results. Gay/lesbian participants reported more acute mental health symptoms than heterosexual people and their general mental health also was poorer. Gay/lesbian people more frequently reported acute physical symptoms and chronic conditions than heterosexual people. Differences in smoking, alcohol use, and drug use were less prominent. Conclusions. We found that sexual orientation was associated with mental as well as physical health. The causal processes responsible for these differences by sexual orientation need further exploration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1119-1125
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Public Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2006

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