Infectious Illness Symptoms Are Associated with Elevated Anxiety in a Sample of Sexual and Gender Minority Young Adults During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Chitra S. Iyer, Joshua M. Schrock, Anthony Johnson, Pamina M. Gorbach, Sue Siminski, Michael E. Newcomb, Thomas W. McDade, Brian Mustanski*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: To evaluate whether infectious illness symptoms (IIS) are associated with generalized anxiety symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic in sexual/gender (SGM) minority young adults assigned male at birth (AMAB). Method: Four hundred eighteen participants (median age = 25; range, 20–40) were recruited through RADAR, an ongoing Chicago-based cohort study of SGM-AMAB between September 2020 and February 2021. Participants completed online surveys. A subset (n = 145) provided dried blood spot samples to assess SARS-CoV-2 serostatus. Results: One hundred twenty participants (28.7%) had GAD-7 scores of 10 or greater, which indicates generalized anxiety symptoms that may be clinically significant. In a binomial logistic regression model adjusting age, gender identity, race/ethnicity, substance use, and HIV status, the authors found that having a higher IIS count since March 1, 2020, was associated with greater odds of having a GAD-7 score of 10 or greater (OR = 1.14; 95% CI, 1.04, 1.25; P = 0.007). This effect was more pronounced in a binomial logistic regression model adjusting for the same covariates but using current IIS count as the independent variable (OR = 1.39; 95% CI, 1.13, 1.74; P = 0.002). Conclusion: Among SGM-AMAB young adults, those who experienced ISS reported higher scores on the GAD-7, a widely used and validated screening measure for generalized anxiety symptoms. These findings highlight the importance of screening for anxiety disorders when patients present with IIS in clinical settings and psychobehavioral health follow-ups when indicated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Medicine
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Keywords

  • Anxiety
  • COVID-19
  • Infectious illness symptoms
  • LGBTQ+
  • Mental health
  • Youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology

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