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LGBQ+ self-acceptance and its relationship with minority stressors and mental health: a systematic literature review & main empirical project

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Clinical Psychology

Background: According to minority stress and identity development theories, many individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, and other non-heterosexual orientations (LGBQ+) experience stigma, prejudice, and/or discrimination because of their sexuality. These experiences can contribute to difficulties with self-acceptance of sexuality. Lower self-acceptance is considered a risk factor for poorer mental health. The current review aims to investigate whether self-acceptance of sexuality is associated with minority stressors or poorer mental health in LGBQ+ individuals, as well as whether there are differences in self-acceptance between LGBQ+ and heterosexual populations. 
Method: Five bibliographic databases were searched (Ovid MEDLINE[R], Embase, PsychARTICLES, PsychINFO, and Web of Science Core Collection). Twenty-five studies were identified which used quantitative methodology to investigate associations between self-acceptance, minority stressors, or mental health within LGBQ+ samples, or differences in self-acceptance by LGBQ+ and heterosexual participants. 
Results: The results suggested that lower self-acceptance of sexuality was related to experiences of most minority stressors investigated, for example: concealment of sexuality, others’ acceptance and reactions towards participants’ sexuality, and internalised heterosexism. Lower sexuality self-acceptance was also associated with poorer mental health and wellbeing outcomes. Heterosexual participants mostly had higher self-acceptance compared to LGBQ+ participants, although this was not true for heterosexual-identified participants who reported same-sex attractions. Finally, self-acceptance may have some mediating effects on the relationship between heterosexism and mental health outcomes. 
Conclusions: Although self-acceptance was associated with minority stressors and poorer mental health, firm conclusions and inferences regarding causality cannot be determined due to the reliance on cross-sectional correlational data and issues with the psychometric properties of the instruments used.
Original languageEnglish
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Award date1 Oct 2019

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