Differences by Sexual Orientation in Perceptions of Neighborhood Cohesion: Implications for Health

Carrie Henning-Smith, Gilbert Gonzales

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


A large body of research documents the relationship between health and place, including the positive association between neighborhood cohesion and health. However, very little research has examined neighborhood cohesion by sexual orientation. This paper addresses that gap by examining differences in perceived neighborhood cohesion by sexual orientation. We use data from the 2016 National Health Interview Survey (n = 28,164 respondents aged 18 years and older) to examine bivariate differences by sexual orientation in four measures of neighborhood cohesion. We then use ordered logistic regression models to assess the relationship between sexual orientation and a scaled measure of neighborhood cohesion, adjusting for socio-demographic characteristics, living arrangements, health status, region, and neighborhood tenure. We find that lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) adults are less likely to say that they live in a close-knit neighborhood (54.6 vs. 65.6%, p < 0.001), they can count on their neighbors (74.7 vs. 83.1%, p < 0.001), they trust their neighbors (75.5 vs. 83.7%, p < 0.001), or people in their neighborhood help each other out (72.9 vs. 83.1%, p < 0.001), compared to heterosexual adults. Even after controlling for socio-demographic factors, neighborhood cohesion scores are lower for LGB adults compared to heterosexual adults (odds ratio of better perceived neighborhood cohesion for sexual minorities: 0.70, p < 0.001). Overall, LGB adults report worse neighborhood cohesion across multiple measures, even after adjusting for individual characteristics and neighborhood tenure. Because living in a cohesive neighborhood is associated with better health outcomes, future research, community-level initiatives, and public policy efforts should focus on creating welcoming neighborhood environments for sexual minorities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)578-585
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Community Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018


  • Health
  • National Health Interview Survey
  • Neighborhood cohesion
  • Sexual orientation
  • Well-being


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