238547 Perceived discrimination due to socioeconomic status is associated with psychological distress among a community-based sample of urban men who have sex with men (MSM) in New York City: Implications for mental health

Monday, October 31, 2011: 4:30 PM

Kristi E. Gamarel, MA, EdM , Department of Social-Personality Psychology, Graduate Center of the City University of New York, CUNY, New York, NY
Sari L. Reisner, MA , The Fenway Institute, Fenway Health and Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Jeffrey T. Parsons, PhD , Center for HIV Educational Studies and Training (CHEST), Hunter College, New York, NY
Sarit A. Golub, PhD, MPH , Department of Psychology, Hunter College, City University of New York, New York, NY
Background: Despite reports of strong associations between mental health distress and perceived discrimination among gay/bisexual men, few studies have specifically examined whether self-reporting discrimination due to socioeconomic status (SES) is associated with mental health symptoms. Methods: A convenience sample of gay/bisexual men (N=294; mean age 42; 17% Black, 13% Latino, 10% other race/ethnicity; 21% HIV positive) attending a community-event in 2010 completed a one-time survey on demographics, discrimination experiences in the past 12 months (Everyday Experiences of Discrimination Scale), and mental health (BSI depressive and anxious symptoms). Multivariable regression analyses investigated whether: (1) discrimination scores were associated with higher levels of psychological distress; (2) perceived discrimination due to SES was associated with elevated mental health symptom scores. Results: In multivariable regression models adjusted for age, race/ethnicity, sexual identity, education, income, and HIV serostatus, discrimination was positively associated with higher depressive (b=0.32; p<0.01) and anxious (b=0.32; p<0.01) symptoms. A statistically significant quadratic term (discrimination-squared; p<0.01) was fit in each multivariable model, suggesting a curvilinear relationship between discrimination and psychological distress. Moderate levels of self-reported discrimination were most robustly associated with poorer mental health. Reporting discrimination due to SES (18%; N=52) was significantly associated with higher discrimination scores (p=0.004), and was also predictive of both higher depressive (b=2.49; p<0.01) and anxious (b=2.35; p<0.01) symptoms. Discussion: Findings indicate that perceived discrimination is associated with internalizing mental health symptoms in this sample of urban gay/bisexual men. Discrimination due to SES patterned alongside psychological distress and represents an important area for future research with gay/bisexual men to further understand social disparities in mental health.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Learning Objective 1: To describe the association of perceived discrimination and internalizing psychological distress among urban gay/bisexual men. Learning Objective 2: To identify and examine discrimination due to socioeconomic status among gay/bisexual men, and to consider its role in presenting mental health concerns among this population, including its potentiating role in mental health disparities by sexual orientation among men.

Keywords: Gay, Mental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Kristi Gamarel is a clinical supervisor and research associate at Center for HIV Educational Studies & Training in New York, New York. She is currently a full-time doctoral student at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY) in the Social Personality Psychology Department. Her research in health psychology focuses on the psychosocial factors that influence social disparities in mental health and HIV/AIDS. She has more than 10 years of work experience in the fields of health psychology and public health research within the areas of reproductive health, mental health, and HIV prevention. Ms. Gamarel holds a masterís in counseling psychology and a master's in education from Teacherís College, Columbia University. She regularly guest lectures at Hunter College in undergraduate courses, including Health Psychology and Introduction to Psychology.
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.