Category: Gay / Lesbian / Bisexual / Transgender Issues

Symposium

Behavioral and Health-Related Patterns Among Lesbians: General Discrimination, Sexual-Minority Stress, Affect, and Support

Friday, November 17
3:30 PM - 5:00 PM
Location: Cobalt 501, Level 5, Cobalt Level

Keywords: Eating Disorders | Obesity / Overweight | Alcohol
Presentation Type: Symposium

Lesbian women suffer from increased mental and physical health burden compared to heterosexual women. For example, studies have shown that obesity, disordered eating, and substance use are prominent among lesbian women. In order to inform treatment and prevention, the purpose of this study was to examine behavioral and health-related patterns among lesbian women and elucidate how these patterns are associated with general discrimination, sexual minority stress, affect, and social support. A sample of self-identified lesbian women (N = 436) completed an online survey. A latent profile analysis was conducted using measures of body mass index (BMI), alcohol problems, binge eating (BE), eating disorder risk (ED), and exercise as indicators. A 5-class solution best fit the data and included the following groups: 1) low health risk (defined as relatively less ED risk and BE, lower BMI, and fewer alcohol problems), moderate exercise (LHR+ME; 54%), 2) obese, binge eating (Ob+BE; 14%), 3) high ED risk, alcohol problems (ED+AP; 5%), 4) high ED risk, high exercise (ED+HE; 5%), and 5) low health risk, high exercise (LHR+HE; 22%). The Ob+BE, ED+AP, and ED+HE classes generally reported more general discrimination, sexual minority stress, social anxiety, negative affect, and lower social support compared to the LHR+ME and LHR+HE classes. Also, the ED+AP class trended toward higher levels on these variables compared to the Ob+BE and ED+HE classes. However, the ED+AP class only reported significantly greater negative affect than the Ob+BE class. These findings show that behavioral and health-related variables cluster together in several distinct patterns among lesbian women. In addition, general discrimination and sexual minority stress and associated psychosocial functioning may be related to the manifestation of several different maladaptive behavioral and health-related patterns. Finally, our findings appear to show that co-occurring disordered eating and alcohol problems are related to the greatest discrimination, minority stress, and affective and social difficulties, although sample size limited power to detect significance.

Tyler B. Mason

Neuropsychiatric Research Institute

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Behavioral and Health-Related Patterns Among Lesbians: General Discrimination, Sexual-Minority Stress, Affect, and Support



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