Prejudice events and traumatic stress among heterosexuals and lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals

Stress-ImgBy Edward J. Alessia, James I. Martin, Akua Gyamerah &
Ilan H. Meyer

July 2013

*Article originally published in the Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma

This mixed-methods study examined associations between prejudice events and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among 382 lesbians, gays, and bisexuals (LGB) and 126 heterosexu-als. Using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview, we assessed PTSD with a relaxed Criterion A1; that is, we allowed events that did not involve threat to life or physical integrity to also qualify as traumatic. We first assessed whether exposure to prejudice-related qualifying events differed with respect to participants’ sexual orientation and race. We found that White LGBs were more likely than White heterosexuals to encounter a prejudice-related qualifying event, and among LGBs, Black and Latino LGBs were no more likely than White LGBs to experience this type of event.  We then used qualitative analysis of participants’ brief narratives to examine prejudice events that precipitated Relaxed Criterion A1 PTSD among 8 participants. Two themes emerged: (a) the need to make major changes, and (b) compromised sense of safety and security following exposure to the prejudice event.

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