Date of Award

Fall 8-23-2023

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

School

Psychology

Committee Chair

Austen Anderson

Committee Chair School

Psychology

Committee Member 2

Craig Warlick

Committee Member 2 School

Psychology

Committee Member 3

Eric Dahlen

Committee Member 3 School

Psychology

Abstract

The are many well-documented disparities among LGBTQ+ individuals and a rising concern about mental health in higher education, as LGBTQ+ graduate students may face unique and specific vulnerabilities in relation to their overall health compared to their peers. Part of what might be driving the mental health crisis among LGBTQ+ graduate students are poorer lifestyle factors. There is limited research that examines the impact of health-related lifestyle factors on mental health among LGBTQ+ graduate students, exacerbating our lack of insight into specific problems that may affect LGBTQ+ individuals’ mental health. As such, the present study examined mental health in LGBTQ+ graduate students, if there are disparities in rates of engagement and participation in select lifestyle factors, and whether certain lifestyle factors may be especially harmful/ hurtful for this population. This project utilized pre-collected data collected from the Fall of 2019 as part of the American College Health Association’s National Health Assessment (NCHA) totaling 7,702 graduate students Mage= 28.4) who self-reported engagement in various health related lifestyle factors. As expected, LGBTQ+ graduate students reported greater psychological distress (d = .49, 95% CI [.42, .56]) and generally worse lifestyle factor profiles compared to sexual and gender majority graduate students. Further, sleep distress was the strongest predictor of psychological distress in LGBTQ+ graduate students (β = -.39, 95% CI [-.45, -.32]); however, LGBTQ+ identity did not moderate the relationship between select lifestyle factors and psychological distress. These findings have important implications for policies and interventions to improve mental health and decrease suffering in LGBTQ+ graduate students.

ORCID ID

0000-0003-0262-5381

Available for download on Sunday, September 01, 2024

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