Predictors_of_anxiety_among_se.pdf

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Predictors of Anxiety Among Sexual Minority Individuals in the Southern US James A. Griffin, Christopher F. Drescher, Elizabeth D. Eldridge, Alexis L. Rossi, Megan M. Loew, and Lara M. Stepleman Augusta University Sexual minority individuals experience a disproportionate burden of mental health issues, particularly in less populous cities of the southern United States. Unique identity-related stressors may explain these disparities. The current study examines relationships between sexual minority stress, identity, and anxiety in sexual minority individuals from a small metropolitan area of the South. Sexual minority individuals ( N 249) from the Central Savannah River Area completed a survey assessing minority stress (i.e., identity-based discrimination, internalized homophobia), identity (i.e., outness comfort, community connectedness) and history of anxiety as part of a larger lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, queer community health needs assessment. All minor- ity stress variables were significantly, positively associated with an anxiety history whereas community connectedness was significantly, negatively associated with anxiety history at the bivariate level. A multiple logistic regression model revealed that assault history was signifi- cantly associated with increased odds of anxiety history, whereas community connectedness was associated with decreased odds of anxiety history. These results demonstrate an influence of discriminatory experiences on anxiety in sexual minority individuals of the South and the protective value of community connectedness. Providers and advocates should work at the individual, community, and systemic levels to eliminate lesbian, gay, bisexual discrimination and facilitate community involvement, thereby reducing mental health disparities. Public Policy Relevance Statement Sexual identity-based discrimination appears to be linked to a history of anxiety difficulties among sexual minority individuals in a small (i.e., less populous) Southern region; however, a positive sense of sexual minority community may buffer the effects of discrimination. Policymakers and institutions in the South should outline clear antidiscrimination policies and procedures for ensuring the safety and security of sexual minority individuals. Further- more, inclusive policies, such as safe space designations, are needed to foster a climate of openness and connection. L esbian, gay, bisexual, and other individuals who identify as a sexual minority (herein collectively referred to as sexual minority individuals ) experience a disproportionate burden of mental health issues and psychological distress ( Bostwick, Boyd, Hughes, & McCabe, 2010 ; Cochran, Sullivan, & Mays, 2003 ; Gilman et al., 2001 ). Disparities in mental health, such as depression and anxiety, often emerge at a young age in sexual minority individuals and continue throughout adulthood ( Burton, Marshal, Chisolm, Sucato, & Friedman, 2013 ; Graham et al., 2011 ; Marshal et al., 2011 ). National studies have indicated that gay and bisexual men are two to three times more likely than
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