Date of Award

Spring 5-4-2021

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Eric R. Wright, Ph.D. and Raeda K. Anderson, Ph.D.

Abstract

The changing demographics and growing diversity in the United States pose significant challenges for researchers, particularly scholarship involving sexual minority adults’ health and aging processes. Not much is known about how all minority stressors could lead to a disability. Sexual minority adults are at a greater risk of developing a disability later in life than their heterosexual counterparts (Fredriksen-Goldsen, Kim, and Barkan 2012). Drawing from critical components of the disablement process model (Verbrugge and Jette 1994), this dissertation sought to understand the relationship between minority stress and disability status among sexual minority adults 50 years and older. Minority stress in the context of the disablement process model is a social condition. While exploring the relationship between minority stress and disability status, intra-individual factors and extra-individual factors were assessed to see if they mediated the relationship between minority stress and disability status among sexual minorities 50 years and older.

This dissertation used data collected from the National Health, Aging, and Sexuality/Gender 2010 Study (Fredriksen-Goldsen and Kim 2017), a nationally representative sample of sexual and gender minorities 50 years and older. The final sample was 1,513 sexual minorities, 50 years and older. Logistic regression was used to test the relationship between minority stress and disability status. Intra-individual factors and extra-individual factors were tested as mediators in the relationship between minority stress and disability status. Risk factors were included in all analyses.

Discrimination was significantly associated with having a disability. None of the intra-individual factors and extra-individual factors mediated the relationship between minority stress and disability; however, several intra-individual and extra-individual factors were associated with greater or lesser odds of experiencing a disability. On the one hand, the disablement process model does not support minority stress as a social condition leading to a disability. On the other hand, this dissertation's results support the ideology that experiencing discrimination is associated with a disability. Implications for academics and practitioners were explored.

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