Psychological Impacts of the COVID-19 Global Pandemic on U.S. Sexual and Gender Minority Young Adults

Jason Li, BS

Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Psychological Impacts of the COVID-19 Global Pandemic on U.S. Sexual and Gender Minority Young Adults

Scientific Abstract

Background: Among the numerous communities impacted by the health and economic effects of COVID-19, sexual and gender minority (SGM) young adults may be particularly at risk for mental health issues. The main goals of this study are to 1) explore the relationships between sexual and gender minority (SGM) identity and psychological well-being during the first-wave of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic (April 13-June 18, 2020) in the United States, and 2) to analyze whether these relationships are influenced by factors related to SGM identity, such as lifetime discrimination, family support, and pre-existing mental health conditions.

Methods: The COVID-19 Adult Resilience Experiences Study (CARES 2020) online survey includes questions about socio-demographic information, SGM status, mental health outcomes, and their potential risk and protective factors. Primary outcomes assessed were depression (PHQ-8), anxiety (GAD-7), PTSD (PCL-C) symptomatology, and COVID-19-related worries (e.g. food and employment instability, maintaining social support, and COVID-19 testing) and COVID-19-related grief (e.g missing out on significant life events).

Results: A cross-sectional cohort of 981, 320 (32.6%) of which are SGM, was found to have significantly higher levels of depression and PTSD symptoms and COVID-19-related worries and grief, even when controlling for family support, lifetime discrimination, and pre-existing mental health diagnoses (p < 0.05 for all outcomes).

Conclusion: SGM young adults have faced disproportionate rates of adverse mental health outcomes in the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreso, commonly explored factors (family support, high lifetime discrimination, and pre-existing mental health diagnoses) cannot alone explain these mental health disparities. As such, further study is warranted. Ultimately, our findings may help guide schools and employers, policymakers, and clinical management plans to further support SGM young adults’ unique social, familial, and mental health circumstances as the pandemic progresses.

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research Areas

Authors

Kanika Kamal*, Jason J. Li*, Hyeouk Chris Hahm Ph.D, Cindy H. Liu, PhD

Principal Investigator

Cindy H. Liu, PhD

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