The Society for Social Work and Research

2013 Annual Conference

January 16-20, 2013 I Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina I San Diego, CA

Can Group Interventions Enhance the Resiliency of Sexual Minority Youth? Evidence From a Pilot Study

Sunday, January 20, 2013: 9:45 AM
Executive Center 3A (Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina)
* noted as presenting author
Shelley L. Craig, PhD, LCSW, Assistant Professor, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON
Ashley Austin, PhD, Assistant Professor, Barry University, Miami Shores, FL
Lauren McInroy, MSW, Doctoral Student and Research Coordinator, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
Purpose: Sexual minority youth (SMY) frequently experience challenges in peer group contexts as a result of their sexual minority status (Plöderl, Faistauer & Fartacek, 2010), and group interventions may be particularly beneficial for SMY as they enable youth to examine their feelings, develop resilient coping strategies, and have been found to increase self-concept and self-esteem (Egbochuku & Aihie, 2009).  Groups are widely used for SMY and adults (Goodenow, Szalacha & Westheimer, 2006), yet to our knowledge, few such interventions have been systematically examined for effectiveness with these vulnerable populations. This study describes the pilot research efforts of Affirmative Supportive Safe and Empowering Talk [ASSET], the first LGBTQ affirmative school-based group counseling intervention created specifically to promote the resiliency of SMY.  It was hypothesized that ASSET would demonstrate increased positive outcomes for participants and evidence of acceptability by MSMY.

Methods: In a pilot uncontrolled trial, SMY (n=263) completed the proactive coping inventory, Rosenberg self-esteem scale, and social connectedness scale at baseline and following completion of the ASSET intervention.  In addition a measure of program acceptability and satisfaction was collected. Measures had high reliability with a range of .80 to .88 (Cronbach’s alpha). ASSET was offered in fifteen urban high schools and consisted of 8-10 weekly sessions that averaged approximately 45 minutes.  IRB approval was obtained.

Results: Using SPSS software, descriptive statistics and correlations were calculated to explore the characteristics of SMY participating in ASSET. An EM multiple imputation strategy was employed to deal with missing values.  SMY average age was 16 (SD=1.2) and identified as lesbian (38%), bisexual (32%), gay (22%); Hispanic all races (74%), Black, non-Hispanic (21%), White non-Hispanic (3%); as well as female (72%), male (27%), and transgender (1%). A general linear model tested the repeated measures in a one way within subjects analysis of variance (ANOVA) and found significant increases across all groups for proactive coping (Wilks’ λ = 0.964, F (2,216) = 8.168, p = .005); and self-esteem (Wilks’ λ = 0. 955, F (2,221) = 10.465, p = .001) with small to medium effect sizes. No significant difference was found for social connectedness or between subgroups. High treatment acceptability was indicated by mean scores of 3.8 (SD =0.40) on a 1-4 scale.

 Implications: As a group intervention, ASSET holds promise to enhance the coping and self-esteem of SMY and this study provides empirical evidence of the results of a focused practice- based research effort. Further, participants were satisfied with the LGBTQ content and delivery. Discussion of specific results in context of communities and schools will include recommendations for enhanced research and practice.