Health Care Engagement Among LGBT Older Adults: The Role of Depression Diagnosis and Symptomatology

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Purpose of the Study:

Optimal engagement in health care plays a critical role in the success of disease prevention and treatment, particularly for older adults who are often in greater need of health care services. However, to date, there is still limited knowledge about the relationship between depression and health care engagement among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) older adults.

Design and Methods:

This study utilized data from Aging with Pride: National Health, Aging, Sexuality/Gender Study, from the 2014 survey with 2,450 LGBT adults 50 years old and older. Multiple-variable regression was utilized to evaluate relationships between three indicators of health care engagement and four depression groups after controlling for background characteristics and discrimination in health care. Health care engagement indicators were “not using preventive care,” “not seeking care when needed,” and “difficulty in adhering to treatments.” Depression groups were defined by depression diagnosis and symptomatology, including Diagnosed-Symptomatic group (Diag-Sympt), Diagnosed-Nonsymptomatic group (Diag-NoSympt), Nondiagnosed-Symptomatic group (NoDiag-Sympt), and Nondiagnosed-Nonsymptomatic group (NoDiag-NoSympt).


Depression groups displayed different patterns and levels of health care engagement. The Diag-Sympt group displayed the highest “difficulty in adhering to treatments.” Diag-NoSympt group displayed the lowest “not using preventive care.” The NoDiag-Sympt group reported the highest “not using preventive care” and “not seeking care when needed.” The NoDiag-NoSympt group had the lowest “not seeking care when needed” and “difficulty in adhering to treatments.”


Depression diagnosis and symptomatology are jointly associated with health care engagement among LGBT older adults. Interventions aiming to promote health care engagement among this population should simultaneously consider both depression diagnosis and symptomatology.

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