Gender identity and sexual orientation affect health care satisfaction, but not utilization, in persons with Multiple Sclerosis

Shahin Khayambashi, Amber Salter, Tuula Tyry, Gary R. Cutter, Robert J. Fox, Ruth Ann Marrie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: We aimed to determine the association between gender identity and sexual orientation on health care utilization in persons with multiple sclerosis (MS), as well as satisfaction with their doctor and comfort discussing sexual health with their doctor. Methods: We surveyed participants from the North American Research Committee on Multiple Sclerosis (NARCOMS) Registry regarding their gender identity and sexual orientation in 2017. Participants also reported their sociodemographic characteristics, disability status, health behaviors and health care utilization, including whether any hospitalizations or emergency room (ER) visits occurred or any disease-modifying therapy (DMT) was used within the last six months. We compared the likelihood of hospitalizations, ER visits and DMT use between (i) cisgender and transgender participants; and (ii) heterosexual, homosexual, and “other sexual orientation” participants using multivariable logistic regression models adjusting for potential confounding factors. Results: Of the 5,604 eligible responders, 1168 (20.8%) reported their sex at birth as male and 4436 reported their sex at birth as female (79.2%). Twenty-five (0.45%) participants identified as transgender and 260 (4.6%) as non-heterosexual individuals. As compared to participants who reported their sexual orientation as heterosexual, non-heterosexual participants were younger, with an earlier age at MS symptom onset, more likely to have a post-secondary education, and more likely to be single. The frequency of any ER visits, any hospital admissions, and DMT use did not differ according to gender identity did not differ according to gender identity or sexual orientation. As compared to cisgender participants, transgender participants reported less comfort (p < 0.042) discussing sexual health with their doctor; findings were similar for non-heterosexual participants as compared to heterosexual participants. Participants reporting other sexual orientation also reported lower satisfaction (p < 0.039) with their doctor than other participants. Conclusion: Gender identity and sexual orientation were not associated with differences in healthcare utilization in persons with MS. However, health care experiences and satisfaction with care may be altered by gender identity and sexual orientation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101440
JournalMultiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders
Volume37
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Gender identity
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Sexual orientation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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