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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Rutgers Dean Studies the Relationship Between Socioeconomic Status and Depression in Sexual and Gender Minority Individuals

Rutgers School of Public Health dean, Dr. Perry N. Halkitis, along with colleagues, examines the relationship between socioeconomic status (SES) and depression, while taking into account factors associated with resilience and/or risk for poor mental health in gay, bisexual, and other young men who have sex with men (YMSM).

SES is a fundamental cause of poor health, but has been understudied for gay, bisexual, and other YMSM. Surprisingly, few studies have examined the relations between poverty and depression in a population that is significantly marginalized and exceptionally susceptible to poor health.

Dean Halkitis along with colleagues at the Center for Health, Identity, Behavior, and Prevention Studies, which he directs, set out to determine the reliability and validity of an eighteen-item Family Resource Scale (FRS) as a measure of SES among YMSM to examine the relationship between SES and depression, while taking into account factors associated with resilience and risk for poor mental health. Reliability of the FRS was determined with Cronbach’s alpha. Validity was assessed with factor analysis and bivariable comparisons with other SES measures.

The researchers found that their diverse sample of YMSM in New York City reported substantial financial hardship and those who were more gay-identified had fewer material resources. Fewer material resources and internalized homophobia were both associated with higher odds of depression.

“The modified FRS has been validated among YMSM as a good non-income based measure of SES,” comments Dean Halkitis. “These results suggest that SES may be a fundamental cause of health among gay, bisexual, and other YMSM, and provide evidence for the detrimental effects that social conditions, both in terms of finances and discrimination, play in shaping the health of gay men.”

The results of this study further support the need for broad structural interventions to ameliorate the various health disparities and problems faced by sexual and gender minority individuals.

This study was conducted as part of the NIH-funded P18 Cohort, which is a body of research focusing on the development of health patterns in sexual and gender minority individuals.

Reliability and validity of a material resources scale and its association with depression among young men who have sex with men: The P18 cohort study” was published in the American Journal of Men’s Health.