MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Julia Raifman, ScD SM
Health Law, Policy, and Management
Boston University School of Public Health
Boston, MA 02118
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What methods did you use? What are the main findings?
Response: The study was motivated by evidence that lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) people in the United States have elevated levels of depression, anxiety, suicide, and mental distress. LGB mental health disparities have been linked to experiences of stigma based on sexual orientation, but most of this evidence comes from studies of association. We were interested in investigating how state policies permitting the denial of services to same-sex couples affected the mental health of LGB individuals.
We used data that are representative of all adults in each of the nine states included in the study, from the 2014 to 2016 waves of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). The main outcome was mental distress, which can include stress, depression, and problems with emotions. We evaluated changes in mental distress among LGB adults in three states that passed policies permitting the denial of services to same-sex couples compared to changes in mental distress among heterosexual adults in the same states and among LGB adults in six control states. We controlled for all state characteristics that did not change over time, as well as individual age group, race, ethnicity, sex, educational attainment, employment, income, and marital status. Continue reading