LGBT health 2017 08 09() doi 10.1089/lgbt.2017.0002
Depression negatively impacts the health and well-being of gay and bisexual men (GBM). However, little is known about the contexts in which rural GBM live relative to those living in urban areas and their overall mental health. The aim of this study was to examine associations between population density and depressive symptoms and the role of internalized homonegativity and social support as potential mediators.
A nationally representative sample of 1071 GBM (mean age = 40.24) was enrolled. Participants provided their zip codes, which were categorized according to population density and rank-normalized.
In a path analysis model adjusted for race/ethnicity, college education, age, and relationship status, higher population density was significantly associated with increased social support (B = 0.11, P = 0.002) and decreased internalized homonegativity (B = -0.06, P < 0.001). In turn, lower social support (B = -2.93, P < 0.001) and greater internalized homonegativity (B = 4.93, P < 0.001) were significantly associated with greater depressive symptoms. The indirect effects of population density on depression through social support (B = -0.33, P < 0.001) and internalized homonegativity (B = -0.31, P < 0.001) were statistically significant, suggesting evidence for mediation of the effects. CONCLUSIONS
These results indicate that living in less inhabited areas acts on depressive symptoms through mechanisms of lower social support and higher internalized homonegativity. These findings suggest that social contexts in which GBM live can affect mental health outcomes and indicate the need for further support and inclusion of GBM, especially in less inhabited areas.