More Psychiatric Disorder Treatment in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Siblings

Investigators examined sexual orientation differences in outpatient psychiatric treatment and antidepressant use.

Individuals who self-identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (sexual minority) are far more likely than their siblings who did not to receive treatment for psychiatric disorders, according to a study recently published in the European Journal of Epidemiology. 

This longitudinal cohort study included 1154 individuals, all of whom were classified as being in the sexual minority, as well as their siblings. In comparison with their siblings, gay men and lesbians showed a higher likelihood of being prescribed antidepressants (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 1.51; 99% CI 1.10-2.07) and receiving treatment for mood disorders (aOR 1.77; 99% CI 1.00-3.16). Those identifying as bisexual were more likely than their siblings to receive treatment for a mood disorder (aOR 1.98; 99% CI 1.33-2.95), be prescribed antidepressants (aOR 1.48; 99% CI 1.07-2.05), and receive psychiatric outpatient treatment (aOR 1.69; 99% CI 1.17-2.45).

Treatment for substance use or anxiety did not differ between participants and their siblings. Over half of the investigated outcomes showed no evidence of familial confounding in treatment for psychiatric disorders.

The individuals in this study were recruited from the Stockholm Public Health Cohort. Treatment for psychiatric diagnoses constituted the primary outcome of the study. All health data were taken from a Swedish national health registry. 

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The study researchers conclude that “sexual minority individuals are significantly more likely to be treated for certain psychiatric disorders compared to their siblings. Future research is needed to understand mechanisms other than familial factors that might cause the substantial treatment differences based on sexual orientation reported here.”


Bränström R, Hatzenbuehler ML, Tinghög P, Pachankis JE. Sexual orientation differences in outpatient psychiatric treatment and antidepressant usage: evidence from a population-based study of siblings [published online May 15, 2018]. Eur J Epidemiol. doi: 10.1007/s10654-018-0411-y.