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      Loneliness and Self-Rated Physical Health Among Gay, Bisexual and other Men who have Sex with Men in Vancouver, Canada


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          Due to stigma and discrimination, gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (gbMSM) potentially carry a heightened burden of loneliness. This analysis investigates loneliness among gbMSM and its’ relationship with self-rated physical health, along with the mediating effect of depression.


          Participants were recruited using respondent-driven sampling into the Momentum Health Study (February 2012-February 2015) with follow-up visits occurring every six months to February 2018. Using computer-assisted self-interviews, measures of loneliness were assessed using a 6-item Loneliness Scale for Emotional and Social Loneliness (lonely vs. not lonely). Current physical health was self-assessed (poor, fair, good, very good, or excellent). A multivariable generalized linear mixed model with a logit link function was used to examine the relationship between loneliness and self-rated physical health. We further investigated the mediating effect of depressive symptomatology on this relationship, via the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale.


          Of 770 participants included, we found that 61% ( n=471) experienced loneliness at baseline. Of the 674 (88%) who reported good/very good/excellent physical health, 59% ( n=391) reported loneliness, compared with 87% ( n=80) of those in poor/fair self-rated physical health who reported feeling lonely. After adjustment for confounding, loneliness was associated with poor self-rated physical health (adjusted Odds Ratio: 1.71; 95%Confidence Interval: 1.13–2.60). Depressive symptomatology was found to partially mediate this relationship.


          There may be a need for the integration of social, mental and physical health programming, targeted towards gbMSM, to alleviate the degree of loneliness experienced and its co-occurrence with poor self-rated physical health.

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          Most cited references46

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          The moderator-mediator variable distinction in social psychological research: conceptual, strategic, and statistical considerations.

          In this article, we attempt to distinguish between the properties of moderator and mediator variables at a number of levels. First, we seek to make theorists and researchers aware of the importance of not using the terms moderator and mediator interchangeably by carefully elaborating, both conceptually and strategically, the many ways in which moderators and mediators differ. We then go beyond this largely pedagogical function and delineate the conceptual and strategic implications of making use of such distinctions with regard to a wide range of phenomena, including control and stress, attitudes, and personality traits. We also provide a specific compendium of analytic procedures appropriate for making the most effective use of the moderator and mediator distinction, both separately and in terms of a broader causal system that includes both moderators and mediators.
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            Prejudice, social stress, and mental health in lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations: conceptual issues and research evidence.

            Ilan Meyer (2003)
            In this article the author reviews research evidence on the prevalence of mental disorders in lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals (LGBs) and shows, using meta-analyses, that LGBs have a higher prevalence of mental disorders than heterosexuals. The author offers a conceptual framework for understanding this excess in prevalence of disorder in terms of minority stress--explaining that stigma, prejudice, and discrimination create a hostile and stressful social environment that causes mental health problems. The model describes stress processes, including the experience of prejudice events, expectations of rejection, hiding and concealing, internalized homophobia, and ameliorative coping processes. This conceptual framework is the basis for the review of research evidence, suggestions for future research directions, and exploration of public policy implications.
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              Loneliness matters: a theoretical and empirical review of consequences and mechanisms.

              As a social species, humans rely on a safe, secure social surround to survive and thrive. Perceptions of social isolation, or loneliness, increase vigilance for threat and heighten feelings of vulnerability while also raising the desire to reconnect. Implicit hypervigilance for social threat alters psychological processes that influence physiological functioning, diminish sleep quality, and increase morbidity and mortality. The purpose of this paper is to review the features and consequences of loneliness within a comprehensive theoretical framework that informs interventions to reduce loneliness. We review physical and mental health consequences of loneliness, mechanisms for its effects, and effectiveness of extant interventions. Features of a loneliness regulatory loop are employed to explain cognitive, behavioral, and physiological consequences of loneliness and to discuss interventions to reduce loneliness. Loneliness is not simply being alone. Interventions to reduce loneliness and its health consequences may need to take into account its attentional, confirmatory, and memorial biases as well as its social and behavioral effects.

                Author and article information

                J Epidemiol Community Health
                J Epidemiol Community Health
                Journal of epidemiology and community health
                17 September 2020
                08 April 2020
                June 2020
                01 February 2021
                : 74
                : 7
                : 553-559
                [1 ]Epidemiology and Population Health Program, BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, Vancouver, Canada;
                [2 ]Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York City, United States;
                [3 ]Department of Psychology, University of Southampton, Southampton, England;
                [4 ]School of Population and Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada;
                [5 ]AIDS Research Program, BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, Vancouver, Canada;
                [6 ]Department of Family Practice, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada;
                [7 ]Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, University of Victoria, Victoria, Canada
                [8 ]School of Public Health and Social Policy, Faculty of Human and Social Development, University of Victoria, Victoria, Canada;
                [9 ]Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada;
                Author notes
                § Corresponding author can be reached at: Address: 505-1200 Burrard Street, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2C7, Canada, Telephone: (250) 213-1743, Fax Number: (604) 806-9044, KGC: kiffercard@ 123456gmail.com

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                Public health
                mental health,psychosocial factors,self-rated health
                Public health
                mental health, psychosocial factors, self-rated health


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