Men and general health needs

There has been extensive research that examines the health needs of gay men, yet this research is predominately concerned with the sexual behaviour of gay men, and the prevention, treatment, and social policy implications of HIV and AIDS (see the Sexual health needs page).

Stonewall are currently conducting the largest ever survey of gay and bisexual men's health. Click here to find out more or to take part in the survey.


The majority of research concerned with other aspects of health care for gay men was conducted mainly in the early 1990s.

This preoccupation with sexual health and HIV can have an impact on service delivery to gay men. Gay men have health needs other than those that relate to sexual activity and HIV prevention. This preoccupation, however, can sometimes affect health service delivery. For example, a gay man might be celibate, or in a monogamous relationship, yet his GP might continually give him information about safe sex because it is assumed that this is the individual’s only health care need.

This emphasis on sexual health also perpetuates the notion that gay health needs are concerned with what men “do” rather than who they are. This also has an impact on people’s perceptions of gay relationships. The narrow focus on sexual activity can sometimes demonstrate to young men, or men who are discovering their sexuality, that being gay is just about sex. This can have an impact on relationships, and on an overall sense of well-being. It is important that the health sector does not perpetuate this narrow understanding of gay male sexuality.

Research indicates that gay men would prefer to disclose their sexual orientation to health care professionals but are reluctant to do so because they are anxious about discrimination. Research also suggests that some gay men are concerned about issues relating to mental health, sexual behaviour and safety, weight issues and eating disorders, a lack of role models, and relationships. Some are also concerned about smoking, drinking, drug and alcohol abuse. For some, gay men just want to be able to be themselves when engaging with a health care professional.

If patients do not feel able to be fully open, this may affect the accuracy of the information given to a health care practitioner, and the validity of any history that is taken. A patient’s circumstances, living arrangements, income and lifestyle can have a direct impact on their health needs. Knowing more about a patient improves delivery of care.


  • Toward an image of male partnership J Beebe (1993)
  • Confronting the Culture of Medicine: Gay Men's Experiences with Primary Care Physicians ( G Beehler) 2001
  • Thinking it through: a new approach to sex, relationships and HIV for gay men A Billington , F Hickson , M Maguire (1996)
  • Vital Statistic Ireland: Findings from the All-Ireland Gay Men's Sex Survey (2000) D Carroll, B Foley, F Hickson, O'Connor, J, Quinlan, M, Sheehan, B, Watters, R, Weatherburn, P
  • Psychological well-being and gay identity: Some suggestions for promoting mental health among gay men A Coyle , M Daniels (1992
  • The role of disclosure in coming out among gay men P Davies (1992)
  • It Makes me Sick: Heterosexism, homophobia and the health of Gay men and Bisexual men C Dodds , P Keogh , F Hickson (2005)
  • The life-styles and health behaviours of gay men R Fitzpatrick , J Dawson , JMcLean , Hart, G, Boulton, M (1989)
  • Yes, but does it work? Impediments to rigorous evaluations of gay men's health promotion  G Hart (1997)
  • Gay men's health  G Hart (1992)
  • Being Homosexual: Gay Men and Their Development R Isay (1994)
  • A Survey of London Gay Men's Migration and Mobility  P Kelley , R Pebody , PScott (1996)
  • Doctoring gay men: exploring the contribution of general practice Sigma Research (2004)
  • Boys' and Young Men's Health: Literature and Practice Review  T Lloyd , S Forrest (2001)
  • What do people believe about gay males? A study of stereotype content and strength S Madon (1997)
  • The Social and Emotional Health Needs of Gay and Bisexual Men: a needs assessment  N McInninie (1998)
  • Ron Davies and the mysteries of male sexuality N McKenna (1998)
  • Young gay men and absence of adequate signs and cultural images
     A Middelthon (2002)
  • Primary care and gay and bisexual men: a report of research into the primary needs of gay and bisexual men and their perceptions of primary care practice. B Cant (2004)
  • Primary health care & gay and bisexual men. A Bains. (2005)
  • Social work practice and men who have sex with men. S Joseph (2005)

(not displayed)

(will appear on this page)

(will appear on this page)

E-newsletter signup

Info bank