207322 Symptoms of psychological distress and sexual orientation: A comparison between LGBT and heterosexual individuals living with HIV/AIDS who self enrolled in HIV-related mental health care

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tania B. Basta, PhD, MPH , School of Public Health Sciences & Professions, Ohio University, Athens, OH
Enbal Shacham, PhD , School of Social Work, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO
Michael Reece, PhD, MPH , Center for Sexual Health Promotion, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
Background: Little is known about whether differences in psychological distress exist between individuals living with HIV who identify as LGBT or heterosexual. Purpose: To examine the differences in psychological distress among self-identified heterosexual and LGBT individuals living with HIV/AIDS. Methods: Sociodemographic data and levels of psychological distress were collected from 1099 individuals living with HIV/AIDS who self-enrolled at an HIV-related mental health clinic from 2002-2007. Thirty-three percent (n = 425) identified as heterosexual, 577 as gay/lesbian, and 97 as bisexual. Results: Gay individuals had significantly higher levels of education than heterosexuals [x2(1, N = 1760) = 224.6, p = 0.00, Cramer's V = .36] and bisexuals [x2(1, N = 627) = 42.46, p = 0.00, Cramer's V = .26]. There were significantly more Caucasians who self-identified as gay than African-American [x2(1, N = 1604) = 246.5, p =0.00, Cramer's V = .39] and Latinos [x2(1, N =1052) = 167.2, p =0.00, Cramer's V = 0.39). The heterosexual sample had a statistically higher proportion of individuals who met the BSI criteria for “caseness” for somatization than the gay sample [28.5% (heterosexual) vs. 21.8% (gay/lesbian), z = 2.33 p<.05]. Conclusions: The findings are of interest to health care providers because they suggest that heterosexual individuals may be more likely to 1) report symptoms of psychological distress in somatic terms or 2) enter mental health care later in their course of infection. Therefore, it is important that health care providers identify these factors and provide referrals to mental health care when appropriate.

Learning Objectives:
1) describe the prevalence of symptoms of psychological distress among heterosexual and GLBT individuals, 2) identify the differences between the symptoms of psychological distress in a heterosexual and GLBT sample, and 3) describe implications for health care practitioners.

Keywords: Mental Health, HIV/AIDS

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: One of my areas of research focuses on HIV/AIDS and mental health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

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