The effect of discrimination and stress on sexual & behavioral health among sexual minority servicemen: a syndemic perspective

Date
2014
Authors
Delgado, Adolph Joseph
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Abstract

On September 20, 2011, the repeal of DADT altered the climate of the United States Armed Forces, affecting thousands of LGB service members by allowing them to openly serve in the military. Although this change in policy was a defining moment in our nation, the reality is that there may still be heteronormative roles and expectations in the military caused by the historical discrimination towards homosexuals in the military. Considering the gap in research regarding the military climate after the repeal of the DADT, the purpose of this study is to increase the body of knowledge on the sexual and behavioral health among gay and bisexual servicemen, while methodologically identifying factors, such as discrimination, that negatively impact mental health and increase negative health behaviors and risky sexual behavior. A convenience sample of 85 male US servicemen ages 20 to 68 years old (Mage = 32.17, SD = 9.92) voluntarily enrolled to participate in this study. Respondents were recruited via email blasts and web postings on social media sites (e.g., Facebook), which directed the participants to the study's online website (Qualtrics) to complete a survey. Results showed a statistically significant association between sexual orientation and experiencing discrimination, χ 2 (1) = 8.292, p = .004. There was a moderately strong association between sexual orientation and experiencing discrimination, V = 0.354, p = .004. A second chi-square test for association was conducted between sexual orientation and stress. All expected cell frequencies were greater than five. There was not a statistically significant association between sexual orientation and stress, χ 2 (1) = .427, p = .513. Three separate step-wise regression models were used for the three outcome variables. Identifying as either a gay or bisexual service members reduced the likelihood of using tobacco (OR = .059, p = .002); alcohol (OR = .064, p = .040); and having casual sex (OR = .105, p = .027). This study provides a novel step towards understanding the current military climate for gay and bisexual servicemen post DADT. Further, I feel that these data bolster the need for future studies to explore which protective factors are unique for gay and bisexual servicemen, in order to design interventions that dissuade engagement of both negative health behaviors and risky-sexual behaviors among men who have sex with men (MSM).

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Keywords
Discrimination, Gay and bisexual servicemen, LGB, Military health, Risky behaviors, Stress, Gay servicemen, Bisexual servicemen
Citation
Department
Health and Kinesiology