A systematic review of stigma in sexual and gender minority health interventions

Transl Behav Med. 2020 Oct 12;10(5):1200-1210. doi: 10.1093/tbm/ibz200.


Stigma against sexual and gender minorities is a major driver of health disparities. Psychological and behavioral interventions that do not address the stigma experienced by sexual and gender minorities may be less efficacious. We conducted a systematic review of existing psychological and behavioral health interventions for sexual and gender minorities to investigate how interventions target sexual and gender minority stigma and consider how stigma could affect intervention efficacy. Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses (PRISMA) guidelines were followed. Eligible studies were peer reviewed and published in English between January 2003 and July 2019 and reported empirical results of behavioral or psychological interventions implemented among sexual and gender minorities. All interventions addressed stigma. We identified 37 eligible interventions. Most interventions targeted sexual minority men. Interventions were frequently developed or adapted for implementation among sexual and gender minorities and addressed multiple levels and types of stigma. Interventions most frequently targeted proximal stressors, including internalized and anticipated stigma. HIV and mental health were the most commonly targeted health outcomes. A limited number of studies investigated the moderating or mediating effects of stigma on intervention efficacy. The application of an intersectional framework was frequently absent and rarely amounted to addressing sources of stigma beyond sexual and gender minority identities. A growing number of interventions address sexual and gender minority stigma in an effort to prevent deleterious health effects. Future research is needed to assess whether stigma modifies the effectiveness of existing psychological and behavioral interventions among sexual and gender minorities. Further, the application of intersectional frameworks is needed to more comprehensively intervene on multiple, intersecting sources of stigma faced by the diverse sexual and gender minority community.

Keywords: Gender minorities; Intersectionality; Intervention; Sexual minorities; Stigma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavioral Medicine / methods
  • Behavioral Medicine / trends
  • Gender Identity
  • Humans
  • Sexual and Gender Minorities / psychology*
  • Social Stigma*
  • Stereotyping*