270876 Childhood adversities among sexual minority populations: Evidence of disparity and implications for health research

Monday, October 29, 2012

John R. Blosnich, PhD, MPH , VISN-2 Center of Excellence for Suicide Prevention, Department of Veterans Affairs, Canandaigua, NY
Judith Andersen, PhD , Department of Psychology, University of Toronto, Mississauga, ON, Canada
Mounting evidence reveals that children and youth who do not identify as heterosexual or gender normative (i.e., sexual minority youth) are particular targets of maltreatment. Sexual minority children and youth report significantly elevated rates of adverse events such as school bullying, physical and sexual abuse and assault perpetrated by peers, family members, and strangers. The etiology of elevated childhood adversities among sexual minority youth remains poorly understood. While literature documents disparately higher prevalence of childhood maltreatment, we contend there is a need for critical synthesis and discussion of how childhood maltreatment may inform sexual minority health disparities. We first review the evidence that childhood adversities are associated with long-term toxic effects on health and then present empirical evidence of childhood maltreatment disparities among sexual minority populations. We then discuss the limitations and strengths of two frameworks of sexual minority health disparities (i.e., Minority Stress Model and Syndemic Theory) in integrating the potential impacts of childhood maltreatment on health and developmental trajectories. For example, sexual minority youth may be set on poorer health trajectories by childhood adversities even before they, themselves, actualize their sexual identity (i.e., before experiencing Minority Stress). We close by suggesting future research directions, including areas of etiologic hypotheses to examine possible causes of childhood maltreatment among sexual minority youth. For instance, although somewhat controversial, research with perpetrators may provide particularly salient information about why sexual minority youth may be inordinately targeted for violence, including whether homophobia/heterosexism may play moderating roles in risk of victimization.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture

Learning Objectives:
1) Describe the association of childhood adversities with behavioral risk and health outcomes 2) Discuss how disparately higher rates of childhood adversities may help to explain sexual minority health disparities

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have published numerous papers about health disparities in sexual minority populations and was PI on a federally-funded dissertation training grant to explore etiology of sexual minority health disparities.
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.