Stress and mental health among midlife and older gay-identified men.

Published: March 7, 2012

Abstract

Objectives. We investigated associations between stress and mental health (positive affect, depressive symptoms) among HIV-negative and HIV-positive midlife and older gay-identified men, along with the mediating and moderating effects of mastery and emotional support. We also studied the mental health effects of same-sex marriage. Methods. We obtained data from self-administered questionnaires completed in 2009 or 2010 by a subsample (n = 202; average age = 56.91 years; age range = 44-75 years) of participants in the University of California, Los Angeles component of the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study, one of the largest and longest-running natural-history studies of HIV/AIDS in the United States. Results. Both sexual minority stress (perceived gay-related stigma, excessive HIV bereavements) and aging-related stress (independence and fiscal concerns) appeared to have been detrimental to mental health. Sense of mastery partially mediated these associations. Being legally married was significantly protective net of all covariates, including having a domestic partner but not being married. Education, HIV status, and race/ethnicity had no significant effects. Conclusions. Sexual minority and aging-related stress significantly affected the emotional lives of these men. Personal sense of mastery may help to sustain them as they age. We observed specific mental health benefits of same-sex legal marriage.

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