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Family Rejection Predicts Poor Mental, Physical Health

Among lesbian, gay and bisexual young adults, family rejection markedly increases likelihood of poor health outcomes

MONDAY, Dec. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) young adults who experience family rejection are more likely to exhibit poor health outcomes, including suicide, depression and illegal drug use, researchers report in the January issue of Pediatrics.

Caitlin Ryan, Ph.D., of San Francisco State University, and colleagues retrospectively analyzed self-report questionnaires completed by 224 LGB young adults who had been open about their sexual orientation with at least one parent or caregiver.

The investigators found that about half the study population showed evidence of mental health and substance abuse issues. A total of 43.3 percent reported current depression, and 40.6 percent reported a prior suicide attempt. Any prior or current substance abuse occurred in 54.7 percent of the population, the researchers report. During the prior six months 27.2 percent reported having unprotected sex, the survey showed, and 27.6 percent had a prior diagnosis of a sexually transmitted disease. In general, health outcomes grew poorer as the magnitude of family rejection became greater, the authors note. Compared with a low rejection, individuals with a high rejection were 8.4 times as likely to attempt suicide, 5.9 times as likely to experience depression and 3.4 times as likely to use illegal drugs, the report indicates.

"This study expands our understanding of predictors of negative health outcomes for LGB adolescents and provides new directions for assessing risk and preventing health and mental health problems in LGB adolescents," Ryan and colleagues write.

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