Psychological Connection to the Gay Community and Negative Self-Appraisals in Middle-Aged and Older Men Who Have Sex with Men: The Mediating Effects of Fitness Engagement

Mark Brennan-Ing*, Sabina Haberlen, Deanna Ware, James E. Egan, Andre L. Brown, Steven Meanley, Frank J. Palella, Robert Bolan, Judith A. Cook, Chukwuemeka N. Okafor, M. Reuel Friedman, Michael W. Plankey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives: Connections to the gay community may elicit negative self-appraisals among men who have sex with men (MSM), which may be exacerbated for people with HIV (PWH). Fitness engagement may mediate self-appraisals by maintaining or improving appearance and health. We hypothesized that gay community connections would be positively related to negative self-appraisal and explored whether this association would be mediated by fitness engagement and moderated by HIV status. Method: Data were obtained from the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Healthy Aging study (N = 1,026; PWH n = 525; people without HIV [PWOH] n = 501). Structural equation modeling (SEM) examined associations between gay community connections, negative self-appraisal (body image dissatisfaction, self-perception of aging), and fitness engagement (physical activity, motivation to be fit). Multiple-group SEM tested the moderating effects of HIV serostatus. Results: The SEM fit the data well (root mean square error of approximation = 0.056; 90% CI: 0.046, 0.066). Connection to the gay community was inversely related to negative self-appraisals and positively related to fitness engagement. Fitness engagement mediated the association between community connections and negative self-appraisal and was inversely related to negative self-appraisals. Among PWH, the association between community connections and self-appraisal was weaker and the effect of fitness engagement on negative self-appraisal was stronger compared to PWOH. Discussion: Connection to the gay community may be a source of resilience for aging MSM by lessening negative self-appraisals and promoting strategies that address body image dissatisfaction and self-perceptions of aging. Interventions facilitating connections to the gay community may support healthy aging in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-49
Number of pages11
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Volume77
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022

Keywords

  • Coping
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Sexual minority
  • Social support
  • Subjective age

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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