245103 Self-acceptance and the health of LGBT Midlanders

Monday, October 31, 2011

Molly McCarthy, BA , College of Public Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE
Christopher Fisher, PhD , Department of Health Promotion, Social & Behavioral Health, College of Public Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE
Jay Irwin, PhD , Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Nebraska Omaha, Omaha, NE
Jason D. Coleman, PhD, MSPH , School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation, University of Nebraska Omaha, Omaha, NE
Background: Previous research conducted in the Midwest shows that self-acceptance of sexual/gender identity (i.e. internalized homophobia) has a significant impact on the mental and physical health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) individuals. This research has taken place in large urban areas; little is known about how self-acceptance affects the health of LGBT individuals living in predominantly rural and socially conservative settings. Using STD diagnosis history and work absenteeism due to mental health reasons as proxies for physical and mental well-being, this study explored how self-acceptance is related to the health of a non-clinical sample of LGBT Nebraskans.

Methods: A community-based participatory research approach was utilized to develop an anonymous survey. Participants (N=789) were recruited via advertisements and press releases in local media, fliers at LGBT-friendly venues and events, and via e-mail. Chi-square and Mann-Whitney tests were run in PASW 18.0.

Results: Participants who had a high degree of self-acceptance of their sexual/gender identity were less likely to have been diagnosed with an STD than those with a low degree of self-acceptance, X^2 (1,789)=4.689, p<.05. Those with a high degree of self-acceptance were also less likely to have missed work in the last 30 days due to mental health reasons (p<.01).

Conclusions: Health practitioners and public health professionals who serve LGBT communities in rural, socially conservative areas may need to address self-acceptance as part of a comprehensive STD treatment and prevention program. Policy changes may also need to be considered to promote social norms supportive of LGBT self-acceptance.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the relationships between self-acceptance and the mental and physical health of LGBT Midlanders.

Keywords: Sexuality, Health Promotion

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to be an abstract author because I did the analysis and am an MPH student at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
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.