Psychological distress as a function of multiple minority status stress

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Counseling Psychology

First Committee Member

Etiony Aldarondo - Committee Chair


Research suggests that ethnic/racial, gender, and sexual minorities experience more psychological distress than heterosexuals and members of the dominant White culture. However, little is known about the correlates of psychological distress among gay and lesbian Blacks, Hispanics, and Whites. This study used data (n = 340) from the 1996 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA) to evaluate the utility of the multiple minority stress hypothesis (MMSH) as a framework for understanding differences in levels of psychological distress based on membership in stigmatized groups. This study also explored the role of ethnicity/race, gender, income, and sexual orientation on the prevalence of anxiety, depression, and alcohol abuse. Evaluation of the data failed to support the MMSH. However, same-sex sexual orientation was found to be associated with increased levels of anxiety, depression, and alcohol abuse. Hispanic ethnicity and higher income were negatively related to depression. Male respondents were found to be at greater risk for alcohol abuse than their female counterparts. Implications of these findings for health care providers serving stigmatized populations are discussed. Moreover, it is argued that findings pertaining to sexual orientation highlight the need for psychologists to not only improve interventions with sexual minority clients, but also to actively work at individual and societal levels to overcome prejudice and discrimination toward stigmatized sexual minority individuals.


Black Studies; Psychology, Social; Psychology, Clinical; Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies; Hispanic American Studies

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