Unpacking the Internalized Homonegativity–Health Relationship: How the Measurement of Internalized Homonegativity and Health Matter and the Contribution of Religiousness

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Archives of Sexual Behavior


Springer New York LLC

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Internalized homonegativity (IH) is widely recognized to negatively influence the health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer/questioning (LGBQ +) individuals. It is not clear, however, the role that religiousness may play in the relationship between IH and health or how differing conceptualizations of IH or health may influence this relationship. We conducted a multi-level meta-analysis of 151 effect sizes from 68 studies to examine the relationship between IH and health as well as what may moderate this relationship. Results suggested that IH was consistently and negatively related to health (r = − .28). Analyses suggest that IH was most strongly related to mental health and well-being, evidencing a relatively weaker (though still negative) relationship with physical or sexual health. Analyses of different ways to measure IH suggest that scales that conceptualize IH to include distress (e.g., the Internalized Homonegativity Inventory) report stronger relationships with health than scales that conceptualize IH orthogonally from distress (e.g., the Internalized Homonegativity scale of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Identity Salience Scale [LGBIS]). We failed to find significant moderation effects for religiousness, though it was hard to evaluate this relationship due to the poor quality of most measures of religiousness. We encourage researchers to use measures of IH that conceptualize IH orthogonally from distress (e.g., the LGBIS) and to use more nuanced measures of religiousness (e.g., religious belief, religious activity). We also encourage researchers to focus on how IH impacts less-often studied measures of health (e.g., physical health, suicidality).

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