Title

Association between LGB sexual orientation and depression mediated by negative social media experiences: National survey study of US young adults

DOI

10.2196/23520

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

12-1-2020

Publication Title

JMIR Mental Health

Volume

7

Issue

12

Keywords

Adolescent, Depression, GSEM, LGBTQ, Mental health, Minority stress, Sexual minorities, Social media, Survey, Young adult

Abstract

Background: Lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) persons are disproportionately affected by depression and have high social media use rates. Negative social media experiences may modify depressive symptoms among LGB persons. We sought to assess the potential influence of negative social media experiences on the association between LGB orientation and depression. Objective: The aim of this study was to assess the potential influence of negative social media experiences on the association between LGB orientation and depression. Methods: We performed a web-based survey of a national sample of US young adults aged 18-30 years. We assessed the respondents' LGB orientation, negative social media experiences, and depression using the 9-item Patient Health Questionnaire. We used generalized structural equation modeling to assess both the direct and indirect effects (via negative social media experiences) of LGB orientation on depression while controlling for relevant demographic and personal characteristics. Results: We found a conditional indirect effect (ab path) of LGB orientation on depressive symptoms via negative social media experience (a: observed coefficient 0.229; P<.001; bias-corrected bootstrapped 95% CI 0.162-0.319, and b: observed coefficient 2.158; P<.001; bias-corrected bootstrapped 95% CI 1.840-2.494). The results show that among LGB respondents, for those who reported negative social media experiences in the past year, a 1 unit increase in these experiences was associated with a 0.494 unit increase in depressive symptomatology. Conclusions: Our results suggest that higher rates of depression among LGB young adults are partially explained by negative social media experiences; these results could help inform future patient/provider conversations about mental health risk and protective factors related to social media use. Reducing these experiences and increasing positive social media experiences among LGB persons may mitigate depressive symptomatology in this population.

Open Access

Gold

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