Minority Stress and Physical Health Among Sexual Minorities

Perspect Psychol Sci. 2013 Sep;8(5):521-48. doi: 10.1177/1745691613497965.


Lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) individuals suffer serious mental health disparities relative to their heterosexual peers, and researchers have linked these disparities to difficult social experiences (e.g., antigay victimization) and internalized biases (e.g., internalized homophobia) that arouse stress. A recent and growing body of evidence suggests that LGB individuals also suffer physical health disparities relative to heterosexuals, ranging from poor general health status to increased risk for cancer and heightened diagnoses of cardiovascular disease, asthma, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. Despite recent advances in this literature, the causes of LGB physical health problems remain relatively opaque. In this article, we review empirical findings related to LGB physical health disparities and argue that such disparities are related to the experience of minority stress-that is, stress caused by experiences with antigay stigma. In light of this minority stress model, we highlight gaps in the current literature and outline five research steps necessary for developing a comprehensive knowledge of the social determinants of LGB physical health.

Keywords: and bisexual (LGB) health; gay; health disparities; lesbian; minority stress; sexual minority health.