Theses Master's

Identifying bisexual-specific minority stressors and assessing implications for observed mental health and substance use disparities

Maggi, Rachel Mary

Sexual minorities including gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual etc. identities experience generally worse health outcomes in areas of mental health and substance use when compared to their heterosexual counterparts, likely driven by a long history of marginalization and discrimination that is, in many places, still present to this day. Meyer’s minority stress theory (1995 & 2003) is a framework that is often utilized in research on sexual minorities to help explain these disparities. However, researchers have only just begun to delve into how bisexuals experience minority stress differently from their monosexual (heterosexual and gay/lesbian) counterparts. Utilizing a systematic literature search, thirty-two articles were extracted for review on this research topic. Out of the twenty-three articles that focused on theorizing bisexual-specific minority stressors, five unique stressors were identified: 1) delegitimization/erasure, 2) stereotyping, 3) twice rejection, 4) identity uncertainty/concealment, and 5) internalized monosexism/bi-negativity. Nine remaining articles were then reviewed to analyze how bisexual-specific minority stressors have been explicitly applied to mental health and/or substance use outcomes. Findings from these articles indicated that bisexual-specific minority stressors were frequently, but not always, associated with poorer mental health and/or substance use outcomes. While some studies observed no relationships, this may be a function of poor measurement of bisexual-specific minority stress and/or the bisexual label in addition to small sample sizes. More research is needed to expand the current understanding of how bisexual-specific minority stress impacts observed mental health and substance use disparities, as well as research that embraces the intersectionality of sexual orientation with additional aspects of gender, race/ethnicity, and country of origin.


More About This Work

Academic Units
Sociomedical Sciences
Thesis Advisors
Giovenco, Daniel P.
M.P.H., Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University
Published Here
April 5, 2021