Does it get better? a longitudinal analysis of psychological distress and victimization in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth

Michelle Birkett*, Michael E. Newcomb, Brian Mustanski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

81 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose The mental health and victimization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth have garnered media attention with the "It Gets Better Project." Despite this popular interest, there is an absence of empirical evidence evaluating a possible developmental trajectory in LGBTQ distress and the factors that might influence distress over time. Methods This study used an accelerated longitudinal design and multilevel modeling to examine a racially/ethnically diverse analytic sample of 231 LGBTQ adolescents aged 16-20 years at baseline, across six time points, and over 3.5 years. Results Results indicated that both psychological distress and victimization decreased across adolescence and into early adulthood. Furthermore, time-lagged analyses and mediation analyses suggested that distress was related to prior experiences of victimization, with greater victimization leading to greater distress. Support received from parents, peers, and significant others was negatively correlated with psychological distress in the cross-sectional model but did not reach significance in the time-lagged model. Conclusions Analyses suggest that psychological distress might "get better" when adolescents encounter less victimization and adds to a growing literature indicating that early experiences of stress impact the mental health of LGBTQ youth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)280-285
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Volume56
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015

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Transgender Persons
Crime Victims
Psychology
Sexual Minorities
Mental Health

Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Bullying
  • Gay
  • Homophobic teasing
  • LGBT
  • Longitudinal
  • Mental health
  • Victimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this

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title = "Does it get better? a longitudinal analysis of psychological distress and victimization in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth",
abstract = "Purpose The mental health and victimization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth have garnered media attention with the {"}It Gets Better Project.{"} Despite this popular interest, there is an absence of empirical evidence evaluating a possible developmental trajectory in LGBTQ distress and the factors that might influence distress over time. Methods This study used an accelerated longitudinal design and multilevel modeling to examine a racially/ethnically diverse analytic sample of 231 LGBTQ adolescents aged 16-20 years at baseline, across six time points, and over 3.5 years. Results Results indicated that both psychological distress and victimization decreased across adolescence and into early adulthood. Furthermore, time-lagged analyses and mediation analyses suggested that distress was related to prior experiences of victimization, with greater victimization leading to greater distress. Support received from parents, peers, and significant others was negatively correlated with psychological distress in the cross-sectional model but did not reach significance in the time-lagged model. Conclusions Analyses suggest that psychological distress might {"}get better{"} when adolescents encounter less victimization and adds to a growing literature indicating that early experiences of stress impact the mental health of LGBTQ youth.",
keywords = "Adolescents, Bullying, Gay, Homophobic teasing, LGBT, Longitudinal, Mental health, Victimization",
author = "Michelle Birkett and Newcomb, {Michael E.} and Brian Mustanski",
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N2 - Purpose The mental health and victimization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth have garnered media attention with the "It Gets Better Project." Despite this popular interest, there is an absence of empirical evidence evaluating a possible developmental trajectory in LGBTQ distress and the factors that might influence distress over time. Methods This study used an accelerated longitudinal design and multilevel modeling to examine a racially/ethnically diverse analytic sample of 231 LGBTQ adolescents aged 16-20 years at baseline, across six time points, and over 3.5 years. Results Results indicated that both psychological distress and victimization decreased across adolescence and into early adulthood. Furthermore, time-lagged analyses and mediation analyses suggested that distress was related to prior experiences of victimization, with greater victimization leading to greater distress. Support received from parents, peers, and significant others was negatively correlated with psychological distress in the cross-sectional model but did not reach significance in the time-lagged model. Conclusions Analyses suggest that psychological distress might "get better" when adolescents encounter less victimization and adds to a growing literature indicating that early experiences of stress impact the mental health of LGBTQ youth.

AB - Purpose The mental health and victimization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth have garnered media attention with the "It Gets Better Project." Despite this popular interest, there is an absence of empirical evidence evaluating a possible developmental trajectory in LGBTQ distress and the factors that might influence distress over time. Methods This study used an accelerated longitudinal design and multilevel modeling to examine a racially/ethnically diverse analytic sample of 231 LGBTQ adolescents aged 16-20 years at baseline, across six time points, and over 3.5 years. Results Results indicated that both psychological distress and victimization decreased across adolescence and into early adulthood. Furthermore, time-lagged analyses and mediation analyses suggested that distress was related to prior experiences of victimization, with greater victimization leading to greater distress. Support received from parents, peers, and significant others was negatively correlated with psychological distress in the cross-sectional model but did not reach significance in the time-lagged model. Conclusions Analyses suggest that psychological distress might "get better" when adolescents encounter less victimization and adds to a growing literature indicating that early experiences of stress impact the mental health of LGBTQ youth.

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