Category: Gay / Lesbian / Bisexual / Transgender Issues
Background: Sexual and gender minority (SGM) individuals experience elevated rates of minority stress, which has been linked to higher rates of depression and anxiety (Medley et al., 2016; Meyer, 2003). Most extant research on this disparity is predicated on research methods involving recall of past/lifetime SGM-based prejudices. In contrast, there has been little research examining the within day effects of prejudice, and its relation to daily depression and anxiety. The aim of this study was to address this knowledge gap using ecological momentary assessment (EMA), which involves multiple within day measurement prompts initiated through portable electronic devices.
Method: SGM individuals (N=50; Mage=21.82, SD=4.70), recruited from a rurally-situated metropolitan city, were asked to participate in an EMA study. Each EMA device prompted participants to provide data six times daily for 14 consecutive days. Each prompt included questions regarding SGM-based prejudice, as well as mistreatment attributed to other factors (due to race/ethnicity, disability, mental health, physical health, gender, or “other”) since their last prompt, and current depression and anxiety ratings. Data were analyzed using hierarchical linear modeling.
Results: Prejudice experiencesthat occurred since individuals’ last measurement prompt (past two-three hours) predicted higher current depression/anxiety scores, b = 1.04, t(49)= 6.95, p < .001. Other forms of mistreatment also predicted depression/anxiety, but to a lesser degree, b = .46, t(49) = 4.91, p < .001. After controlling for same-period prejudice and other forms of mistreatment, prejudice lagged one measurement period (i.e., occurring four-six hours prior), but not other forms of mistreatment, was positively (albeit marginally) associated with subsequent depression/anxiety, b = .33, t(49) = 1.90, p = .06. These relationships were statistically significant after accounting for time of day, day of week, and autocorrelation.
Discussion: This study adds to existing minority stress research by highlighting the immediate and delayed effects of daily prejudice experiences on momentary depression and anxiety ratings. These findings also highlight that SGM-based prejudice may be particularly detrimental to SGM individuals relative to other forms of mistreatment. Aside from the ongoing need to reduce bias against SGM individuals, additional research is needed to develop interventions to help SGM individuals cope with daily prejudice, and to reduce risk for depression and anxiety. Given the immediate effects of prejudice, one avenue may include developing real-time, technology-based interventions designed to facilitate coping and reduce risk for depression and anxiety in response to prejudice. Further implications and future directions will be discussed.
Nicholas Livingston– Research Fellow, VA Boston Healthcare System, Brighton, Massachusetts
Oakleigh Reed– University of Montana
Nicholas Heck– Assistant Professor, Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Annesa Flentje– Assistant Professor, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California
Bryan Cochran– University of Montana
VA Boston Healthcare System
University of California San Francisco
San Francisco, California