Theses Doctoral

Don’t DIS my ABILITY: Expansion of Minority Stress Theory for Adults with Learning Disabilities

Geiger, Elizabeth Farrell

Since the multicultural movement, disability theorists have called to understand disability as a marginalized and socially constructed identity (Olkin, 2002). The current study aimed to adopt this approach with individuals diagnosed with learning disabilities (LD) to assess the psychological ramifications of LD stigma and discrimination. Previous work has begun to explore the links between LD discrimination and psychological health (Geiger & Brewster, 2018); however, the role of mediating variables remains unexplored. The current study applied Minority Stress Theory (Meyer, 1995, 2003) with a national sample of 227 adults with LDs to assess the potential mediating roles LD-specific minority stressors have on the relationship between LD discrimination and psychological distress grounded in the integrative mediation framework (Hatzenbuehler, 2009). Through bivariate correlations and structural equation modeling, the study examined relations between five variables: one distal stressor (i.e., LD discrimination), and three proximal stressors (i.e., expectations of LD stigma, internalized LD stigma, concealment of LD identity) with mental health outcomes (i.e., psychological distress). Results provide support for the adaptation of minority stress theory with adult LD populations through model fit, in addition to support from hypothesized bivariate correlations between variables of interest. Findings indicate partial support for direct effects, with LD discrimination demonstrating the most robust effect on psychological distress and all three proximal stressors. In terms of mediating variables, findings do not support the three hypothesized indirect effects of proximal stressors. Clinical, theoretical, and research implications and future directions are explored.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Counseling Psychology
Thesis Advisors
Brewster, Melanie Elyse
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
September 13, 2019