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LGB individuals living in anti-gay communities die early
Date:2/14/2014

characterized by high versus low levels of prejudice. By the end of the study, 92% of LGB respondents living in low-prejudice communities were still alive; in contrast, only 78% of the LGB respondents living in high-prejudice communities were still alive.

The authors also found that suicide, homicide/violence, and cardiovascular diseases were all substantially elevated among sexual minorities in high-prejudice communities. LGB respondents living in high-prejudice communities died of suicide on average at age 37.5, compared to age 55.7 for those living in low-prejudice communities, a striking 18-year difference. Homicide and violence-related deaths are one of the most direct links between hostile community attitudes and death, and results indicated that homicide rates were over three times more likely to occur in high-prejudice communities than in low-prejudice communities.

Of the deaths in high-prejudice communities, 25% were due to cardiovascular disease, compared to 18.6% of deaths in the low-prejudice communities. "Psychosocial stressors are strongly linked to cardiovascular risk, and this kind of stress may represent an indirect pathway through which prejudice contributes to mortality. Discrimination, prejudice, and social marginalization create several unique demands on stigmatized individuals that are stress-inducing," said Dr. Hatzenbuehler.

A significant strength of the study was the ability to document the associations between prejudice and mortality at the community level. Also of note, Dr. Hatzenbuehler points out, the community-level measure of prejudice does not rely on sexual minorities' perceptions of how stigmatizing their communities are, but rather was based on the prejudicial attitudes of all respondents living in that community. "Therefore, this approach overcomes many of the limitations of individual-level measures of stigma and prejudice, which have characterized most stigma and health research to date."


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Contact: Stephanie Berger
sb2247@columbia.edu
212-305-4372
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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