Online Program

Embodiment of minority stress: Differences in allostatic load by sexual orientation identity

Monday, November 4, 2013

Kristopher L. Arheart, Ed.D., Department of Public Health Sciences, Division of Biostatistics, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL
Manuel A. Ocasio, MSPH, Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL
Alberto J. Caban-Martinez, PhD, DO, MPH, CPH, Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Cristina A. Fernandez, MSEd, Department of Epidemiology, Brown University, Providence, RI
Jenelle Lin, BS, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL
Tainya C. Clarke, PhD, MPH, MS, Department of Epidemiology & Public Health, University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL
Lora E. Fleming, MD PhD, European Centre for Environment and Human Health, University of Exeter Medical School, Truro, United Kingdom
David J. Lee, PhD, Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL
Introduction: The Minority Stress Theory posits that sexual minorities experience more stress due to stigma, discrimination, and prejudice. Frequent exposure to social stressors can manifest in prolonged physiological dysregulation, leading to increased risk for disease and premature mortality. We examine differences in allostatic load (AL), a measure of the cumulative physiological wear and tear on the body's regulatory systems, by sexual orientation.

Methods: Pooled 2005-2010 nationally-representative National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data for adults aged 20-59 self-identified as either heterosexual, lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) with AL measures (n=8,069) were analyzed using adjustments for complex survey design and sample weighting. The AL index comprised of 9 biomarkers and anthropometric measures based on the scientific literature, with a high AL (>3) classified as the highest quartile in the population distribution.

Results: LGB adults represented 3.9% (95% CI: 3.27%-4.57%) of the total US population. Heterosexuals had a similar mean AL score (AL mean=2.19; 2.12-2.25) to LGB adults (2.16 [1.85-2.47]). However, after adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics in a logistic regression analysis, LGB adults had 1.35 times higher likelihood (0.85-1.96) of having a high AL compared to heterosexuals.

Conclusion: US LGB adults may have a greater likelihood of having a high AL, although this difference was not statistically significant, in part due to small sample size This presentation will pool additional years of data to increase sample size. Future research should examine specific social stressors in this population and their relationship with elevated AL.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Advocacy for health and health education
Diversity and culture
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Discuss components of the minority stress theory and how they relate to biomarkers of chronic stress. Summarize differences in allostatic load between lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals and their heterosexual counterparts using nationally-representative data. Describe the availability and utility of nationally representative data to study allostatic load in LGBT adults

Keyword(s): Mental Health, Sexuality

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am Master of Science student in Public Health, and I had full access to the study data.
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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