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Health Services Research & Development

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HSR&D In Progress

August 2019

In This Issue: Improving Care and Access for LGBTQ Veterans
» Table of Contents

Overview: New Research for LGBTQ Veterans

A national survey conducted in 2017 by The Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law, shows that approximately 5% of the U.S. population self-identifies as LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender): 58% female and 42% male. Survey results also show that LGBT individuals are more likely than heterosexuals to be uninsured (15% vs 12%), food insecure (27% vs 15%), and to have an annual income below $24,000 (25% vs 18%). In addition, LGBT adults are significantly more likely than heterosexual adults to report discrimination in housing (15% v 6%), as well as childhood bullying (41% v 14%)1.

There are an estimated one million lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Veterans in the United States. As a result of stigma, stress, and discrimination, these Veterans face increased health risks and unique challenges in accessing healthcare.2 For example, a recent study conducted by HSR&D investigators showed that while the majority of women Veterans reported feeling welcome at their VA, fewer LGBTQ women reported feeling welcome and safe compared with non-LGBTQ women Veterans.3

Another study conducted by HSR&D investigators, with funding from the Williams Institute, showed that in a national sample of 298 transgender Veterans who used VA healthcare, 79% were satisfied with their medical care, and 69% were satisfied with their mental healthcare.4

Studies such as these and ongoing HSR&D studies will lead the way toward improving the health and care of LGBTQ Veterans both within and outside the VA healthcare system.


  1. LGBT Data & Demographics. UCLA School of Law Williams Institute. Accessed July 3, 2019.
  2. DAV®. LGBT Veterans. Accessed July 2, 2019.
  3. Shipherd J, Darling J, Klap R, et al. Experiences in the Veterans Health Administration and impact on healthcare utilization: Comparisons between LGBT and non-LGBT women Veterans. LGBT Health. July 2018;5(5):303-311.
  4. Lehavot K, Katon J, Simpson T, and Shipherd J. Transgender Veterans’ satisfaction with care and unmet health needs. Medical Care. September 2017;55(Suppl2):S90-S96.


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