Internalized homophobia and internalizing mental health problems: A meta-analytic review

Michael E. Newcomb*, Brian Mustanski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

354 Scopus citations

Abstract

Research on internalized homophobia (IH) has linked it to both mental and physical health outcomes. Extant research indicates that IH and mental health are related in a variety of different subgroups of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) persons. However, much of this research has suffered from methodological issues. Studies have frequently substituted distress-related constructs (e.g., self-esteem and general well-being) for measures of internalizing mental health problems. Furthermore, many studies have misapplied measures of IH designed for gay men with lesbian samples. The current study used Hierarchical Linear Modeling to perform meta-analysis. Effect sizes were combined across multiple studies that used dimensional measures of internalizing mental health problems (i.e., depression and anxiety). The use of multilevel modeling techniques allowed for the evaluation of moderating effects on these relationships, including those of gender, year of data collection, mean age of the sample, publication type, and type of symptomatology measured. Thirty-one studies were meta-analyzed for the relationship between IH and mental health (N= 5831), revealing a small to moderate overall effect size for the relationship between the two variables. Higher levels of IH were associated with higher scores on dimensional measures of internalizing mental health problems. Significant moderating effects were also found for mean age of the sample and the type of symptomatology measured in each study. The relationship between IH and internalizing mental health problems was stronger in studies with a higher mean age. The relationship between IH and depressive symptomatology was stronger than the relationship between IH and symptoms of anxiety. Limitations and future research directions are discussed as well as implications for clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1019-1029
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Psychology Review
Volume30
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2010

Keywords

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Homosexuality
  • Internalized homophobia
  • Mental health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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