Abstract: The Moderating Effect of Social Support on Sexual Orientation Microaggressions and Depression Among Gay, Bisexual, and Two-Spirit Men in Ontario, Canada (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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The Moderating Effect of Social Support on Sexual Orientation Microaggressions and Depression Among Gay, Bisexual, and Two-Spirit Men in Ontario, Canada

Wednesday, January 20, 2021
* noted as presenting author
David J. Brennan, PhD, Full Professor & Associate Dean, Research, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
Michael Woodford, PhD, Associate Professor, Wilfrid Laurier University, Kitchener, ON, Canada
David Collict, MA, PhD Student, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
Maya Kesler, PhD, Lead Epidemiologist, Ontario HIV Treatment Network, Toronto, ON, Canada
Tsegaye Bekele, MPH, Research Associate, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Minority stress theory suggests that stigma, including discrimination, puts sexual minorities at increased risk for poor mental health. Considerable research examines overt discrimination (e.g., physical violence) among sexual minorities, but little attention has been given to subtle discrimination, such as everyday microaggressions. Further, even less attention has been given to the factors that can offer buffer sexual minorities from the negative effects of microaggressions. Among a sample of gay, bisexual, and two-spirited men (GB2M), we examined the association between sexual orientation microaggressions and depressive symptoms, and the moderating effect of social support, both overall and particular types.

METHODS: A convenience sample of GB2M recruited in Ontario, Canada, completed an online questionnaire (N=877, 80% gay/bisexual, 62% White, 54% < $40,000 yearly income, Median age: 30 years). Measures included Interpersonal Sexual Orientation Microaggressions (ISOM; α=0.926)), adapted from the LGBQ Microaggressions on Campus Scale, Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9; α=0.911), and Medical Outcomes Study Social Support scale (α=0.964), including four subscales: emotional and informational (EIS), tangible (TS), affectionate (AS), and positive social interaction (PSIS). Bivariable and multivariable linear regression models were fitted to examine the direct effects of microaggressions and social support, and whether social support indicators (overall and each type) moderated the microaggressions-depression relationship.

RESULTS: In bivariable regression analyses, we found positive association between ISOM and depression scores (B= 0.194, p<.001) and significant negative associations (all p-values <.05) between depression and overall support (B= -0.185), EIS (B= -0.175), AS (B= -0.136), PSIS (B= -0.168), and TS (B= -0.103) subscales.

In multivariable regression models (controlling for demographics, HIV status, substance use, and disclosure of sexual orientation), the main effects of all predictors were significant, with ISOM positively associated with DS scores and overall support and each type negatively associated with DS scores. Interactions between ISOM and support were significant for overall support (B= -0.048, p=.012) and EIS (B= -0.042, p=.021), AS (B= -0.052, p=.002), and PSIS (B= -0.044, p=0.023) subscales, but not for TS subscale (B= -0.017, p=0.279).

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: Our results indicate that microaggressions are a risk factor for depression among GBWM, and that social support, overall and particular types moderate the negative effects of microaggressions on depression symptoms among GB2M. Interventions that promote social support, particularly emotional and informational, affectionate, and positive social interaction support, are needed. Recommendations for future research will be outlined.