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International Journal for Equity in Health

, 16:43

First Online: 04 March 2017Received: 15 July 2016Accepted: 14 February 2017DOI: 10.1186-s12939-017-0532-z

Cite this article as: Khan, M., Ilcisin, M. & Saxton, K. Int J Equity Health 2017 16: 43. doi:10.1186-s12939-017-0532-z


BackgroundThe theory of fundamental causes explains why health disparities persist over time, even as risk factors, mechanisms, and diseases change. Using an intersectional framework, we evaluated multifactorial discrimination as a fundamental cause of mental health disparities.

MethodsUsing baseline data from the Project STRIDE: Stress, Identity, and Mental Health study, we examined the health effects of discrimination among individuals who self-identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. We used logistic and linear regression to assess whether multifactorial discrimination met the four criteria designating a fundamental cause, namely that the cause: 1 influences multiple health outcomes, 2 affects multiple risk factors, 3 involves access to resources that can be leveraged to reduce consequences of disease, and 4 reproduces itself in varied contexts through changing mechanisms.

ResultsMultifactorial discrimination predicted high depression scores, psychological well-being, and substance use disorder diagnosis. Discrimination was positively associated with risk factors for high depression scores: chronic strain and total number of stressful life events. Discrimination was associated with significantly lower levels of mastery and self-esteem, protective factors for depressive symptomatology. Even after controlling for risk factors, discrimination remained a significant predictor for high depression scores. Among subjects with low depression scores, multifactorial discrimination also predicted anxiety and aggregate mental health scores.

ConclusionsMultifactorial discrimination should be considered a fundamental cause of mental health inequities and may be an important cause of broad health disparities among populations with intersecting social identities.

KeywordsHealth equity Fundamental causes Discrimination Intersectionality Mental Health AbbreviationsLGBLesbian, gay, and bisexual

LGBQLesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer

SESSocioeconomic status

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Autor: Mariam Khan - Misja Ilcisin - Katherine Saxton


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