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Race/Ethnicity and Sexual Orientation Disparities in Mental Health, Sexism, and Social Support among Women Veterans.
Lehavot K, Beckman KL, Chen JA, Simpson TL, Williams EC. Race/Ethnicity and Sexual Orientation Disparities in Mental Health, Sexism, and Social Support among Women Veterans. Psychology of sexual orientation and gender diversity. 2019 Jan 1; 6(3):347-358.
To identify patterns of risk and resilience by the intersections of race/ethnicity and sexual orientation in mental health symptom severity, sexism, and social support among U.S. women veterans.
A national sample of women veterans ( = 648, 38% sexual minority, 15% racial/ethnic minority) was recruited online in 2013 using social networking websites and listservs. Using cross-sectional survey data, we evaluated main and interactive associations between race/ethnicity and sexual orientation on depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress, unhealthy alcohol use, sexism, and social support. Models were adjusted for other demographic characteristics.
Across depression, anxiety, and sexism, White heterosexual women reported the least distress and racial/ethnic minority heterosexual women the most distress (race/ethnicity x sexual orientation interactions < .05). Among White women, sexual minority women reported greater levels of depression, anxiety, and sexism than heterosexual women. The effects were the opposite among racial/ethnic minority women, where heterosexual women reported similar or worse depression, anxiety, and sexism than sexual minority women. There were no race/ethnicity or sexual orientation interaction effects on posttraumatic stress symptoms or unhealthy alcohol use and marginally significant effects on social support.
Among women veterans, race/ethnicity and sexual orientation were associated with mental health and sexism, alone and in combination. Findings suggest that those who were both racial/ethnic and sexual minorities may develop resilience from their lived experience. On the other hand, women veterans with a minority race/ethnicity or a minority sexual orientation appeared more vulnerable to adverse outcomes and may need targeted care.