Sexual Orientation and Resilience: Exploring Subgroup Differences in Stress Experiences and Mental Health Outcomes

Evan Krueger , University of California, Los Angeles
Dawn Upchurch, University of California, Los Angeles

Background: Sexual minority health disparities can be attributed, in large part, to increased stress exposure. However, many sexual minorities do not suffer from chronically poor mental health, despite higher stress exposure. Methods: Using a nationally-representative U.S. sample, differences in stress exposure (past-year stressful life events, SLE) and mental health resilience (“thriving,” “average,” or “languishing;” measure derived from SF-12 mental health component) were assessed among heterosexuals and three sexual minority groups (lesbians/gay men, bisexuals, heterosexual-identified sexual minorities). Factors contributing to resilience were assessed. Results: Heterosexuals reported fewer SLEs, and greater proportions of heterosexuals were “thriving,” compared to sexual minority groups. However, several differences emerged among sexual minority groups in terms of mental health resilience. Sociodemographic characteristics, individual risk factors and assets, and resources contributed to thriving or average, versus languishing mental health resilience. Discussion: Sexual orientation group differences in resilience emerged. This study has implications for social interventions and clinical practice.

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 Presented in Session 11. Health & Mortality 2