Date of Award

Fall 1-20-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Eric Wright

Second Advisor

Richard Rothenberg


Background: Research in the United States has found that individuals who identify as SGM have poor health outcomes when compared to their heterosexual counterparts and participate in more risk behaviors that have been linked to poor health. There are few cross-sectional studies that have included questions regarding SGM status. Using national surveillance data from the 2016 BRFSS, risk behavior participation and poor mental health identification will be compared to SGM status, with particular attention paid to women who have sex with women (WSW) in order to provide a more widespread and complete image of healthcare concerns for all SGM individuals. Methods: Data from the 26 states that utilized the SGM questionnaire in the 2016 BRFSS was first analyzed using a chi-square analysis to determine initial levels of significance between demographics and risk factors with a known connection to poor health outcomes. A crude odds ratio was conducted to remove non-significant risk behaviors and followed by a multiple logistic regression analysis to determine an adjusted odds ratio and to account for confounding relationships between SGM status, significant demographics, and risk factors. Results: SGM respondents were at increased odds, when compared to their heterosexual counterparts, of identifying poor mental health, participating in high-risk situations, smoking status, and having been tested for HIV regardless of sex. WSW in particular, had a higher likelihood of having poor mental health (AOR=2.03, p<0.05) and being a smoker (AOR= 2.48, p<0.05). Conclusions: SGM identifying respondents were at an increased odds of participating in high-risk behaviors that have a known connection to poor health outcomes. Public health efforts should utilize a holistic approach to address risk behavior participation and disparities in overall health for SGM individuals.


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