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Testing a Health Invention for Lesbian/Bisexual Women with Disabilities

Michele Eliason, PhD
San Francisco State University
Award Year: 2013

Initial Abstract

Lesbian and bisexual women with disabilities make up a significant subset of the sexual minority women’s population, yet are significantly understudied. Sexual minority women, in general, have been noted to have a higher rate of physical and mental health disorders and overall rates of being “on disability” than women in the general population, but there have been very few targeted health interventions or clinical research on lesbian/bisexual women. There are virtually no published empirical data articles about the healthcare needs or quality of healthcare provision to lesbian/bisexual women with disabilities. This study adds a focus on disability issues to an already funded project to develop and test a group intervention aimed at improving health (quality of life, physical activity, nutrition) of lesbian and bisexual women over the age of 40 who have weight-related health concerns. I propose to add a separate group for lesbian/bisexual women with disabilities with the same characteristics, and seek funding to provide a facilitator from the disability community, secure sign language interpreters, and locate a more accessible place to hold the intervention. The intervention will consist of six four-hour group sessions with a lesbian/bisexual-centered curriculum about health and well-being, plus 2 hours of personal coaching for each woman from a physical therapist to develop a personalized activity plan. Sixteen women will be recruited for this group, and compared to sexual minority women who attend the same program that is not tailored for women with disabilities (n=128 from the already funded project), as well as a comparison group of women who have disabilities but do not participate in the intervention (n=16). Baseline and six month follow-up data will be collected using standard measures of nutrition, physical activity, quality of life, and weight measures (the outcome variables) as well as demographic, personal, sexual orientation-related, and health history measures. The study will provide much needed baseline data on health status of lesbian/bisexual women with disabilities, as well as gather some preliminary pilot data on the effectiveness of a tailored health intervention for this subpopulation.

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