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Sexual minority individuals consistently report higher rates of mental disorder than heterosexuals. However, much of the research has methodological limitations related to the classification of sexuality, the use of cross-sectional data and problematic sampling procedures such as using convenience samples.
We used longitudinal data from a birth cohort enrolled in the Christchurch Health and Development Study (n = 1040). Latent class analysis was used to classify participants sexuality based on self-report data of sexual behaviour, attraction, identity and fantasy, gathered over five assessments between the ages of 18 and 35 years. Mental health and substance use outcome data were gathered at four assessments between the ages of 21 and 35 years. Potential covariate variables were collected during childhood.
The latent class analysis identified four groups interpreted as: ‘heterosexual’ 82%, ‘mostly heterosexual’ 12.6%, ‘bisexual’ 3.5% and ‘gay/lesbian’ 1.9%. In the sexual minority groups, women outnumbered men by at least 2:1. Pooled rates for mental health disorders of depression, anxiety disorders, suicidal ideation, cannabis abuse and total disorders, after adjustment for childhood covariate variables, were significantly higher in the sexual minority groups (p < 0.01). The strength of association between sexuality group and mental health outcomes did not differ according to sex. Fluidity in sexuality reports appeared unrelated to risk of mental health outcomes.
Over the life course, membership of a sexual minority group is clearly associated with mental health problems of depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation regardless of the age when same-sex attraction, behaviour, identity or fantasy is expressed.
Health is an important aspect of individuals’ lives as they age. The aim of this study was to examine the relationship of sociodemographic factors, diagnosed chronic health conditions, and current depression with attitudes to aging in midlife.
A cross-sectional baseline analysis was conducted on the first 300 participants from the Canterbury Health, Ageing and Life Course study in New Zealand, a stratified randomized community longitudinal study of adults recruited between 49 and 51 years. Attitudes were measured using the Attitudes to Aging Questionnaire (AAQ) and analyzed with a range of prevalent diagnosed chronic conditions, current depression, and sociodemographic variables.
Individuals perceived their physical aging more negatively after a diagnosis of hypertension, arthritis or asthma. Diagnosed lifetime depression and anxiety, and current depression, showed strong relationships with attitudes to aging across domains. After controlling for sociodemographic factors and current depression, individuals with diagnosed hypertension, arthritis, asthma, lifetime depression or anxiety continued to report significantly more negative attitudes to aging. Current depression showed the strongest associations with attitudes to aging and mediated relationships of health on attitudes to aging.
Physical and mental health are related to attitudes to aging. Most chronic conditions examined are significantly associated with attitudes toward aging in the physical change domain. Diagnosed lifetime depression and anxiety, and current depression, are negatively related across attitudinal domains. Individuals can feel positive about aging while experiencing poorer health, but this is more difficult in the presence of low mood.
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