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Self-Efficacy and Health Risks: A Mixed Method Study of Multiethnic Lesbian and Bisexual Youth

Shelley Craig, PhD, LCSW,
University of Toronto,
Award Year: 2011

Initial Abstract

Despite an increasing focus on the poor health indicators of sexual minority youth (SMY)(McKinley, 2010); few studies have explored the experiences of multiethnic lesbian and bisexual youth (MLBY). SMY are vulnerable to health and mental health risks, such as suicide, self-harm and stress (Kosciw, Greytak, & Diaz, 2009), with Hispanic/Latino (Almeida, Johnson, Corliss, Molnar, & Azrael, 2009) and lesbians and bisexual youth (D'Augelli, 2003) at increased risk. Gender-based oppression combined with the stigma experienced by being lesbian or bisexual as well as having racial or ethnic minority status may contribute to a “triple jeopardy” of unique health and mental health risks (Harper, Jernwall & Zea, 2004) for multiethnic lesbian and bisexual youth (MLBY). Further, the strategies that MLBY utilize to deal with such challenges are unknown. For other youth populations, self-efficacy has been identified as critical component of their well-being (Reivich, 2010) and has been found to be a strong predictor of overall health and ability to cope with stress (Schwarzer & Renna, 2005) and may be important to SMY (Crisp & McCave, 2007).

Research Goals and Objectives: This mixed method research will identify the health risks and indicators of MLBY though three integrated objectives: (1) Create a health profile of MLBY; (2) Identify the relationship of selfefficacy to the health risks of MLBY through structural equation modeling (SEM); (3) Conduct focus groups with MLBY to understand how they cope with their health and mental health needs.

Methods: Based on minority stress theory, this pilot study will use a mixed method design to develop a health profile of MLBY participating in a strengths-based case management intervention. The two phase project will include (1) a secondary analysis of existing data (n=147) using descriptive statistics and structural equation modeling (SEM) as well as (2) the primary collection of qualitative data (n=40) through focus groups. Demographic measures (age, gender identity/expression, sexual orientation and race/ethnicity) as well as health indicators (depression, stress, anger, obesity) and self-efficacy (Schwarzer, 1993) will be culled from the client files. The study will be covered under a University of Toronto Research Ethics Board protocol.

Significance and Knowledge Exchange: As the first study that identifies the health risks, needs and self-efficacy of MLBY this project clearly impacts a vulnerable and under researched segment of the lesbian community. Further, no research that we have found has identified the specific health related needs of MLBY from their perspective. This proposal builds on the strong practice and research foundation of the research team and extends those efforts to train lesbian and bisexual social work students in strategies of health research. Findings will be presented to practice and research audiences. It is anticipated that the results of this study will lead to a full proposal to a major federal funder as well as promising practices to enrich the cultural competency of health and mental health providers.

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