Stigma, Social Structure, and Adolescent Mental Health

Grant Details


[unreadable] DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): This is a request for a dissertation research grant (PAR-03-110) designed to encourage minority doctoral candidates to pursue research careers in mental health. The proposed dissertation research employs a social structural framework to explain why adolescents with same-gender attractions are at higher risk of mental health problems than adolescents with opposite-gender attractions. Specifically, sociological studies demonstrate that features of social structure such as social networks and social support from families and peers affect mental health outcomes. This study examines the premise that the experience of being an adolescent with same-gender attractions leads to stigmatizing social network and social support experiences, which in turn produce a high risk of mental health problems. The dissertation aims to: (1) describe and compare the social networks and social support of adolescents with same-gender attractions and adolescents with opposite-gender attractions as they contribute to mental health disparities; (2) examine how social status variations in social support (specifically based on age, gender, and race) among adolescents with same-gender attractions contribute to social status variations in mental health; (3) examine how the process of identifying with an attraction toward the same gender influences social support, which in turn affects mental health. To accomplish these aims, the proposed research will use a sample of adolescents from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Adolescents from grades 7 to 12 were initially interviewed in 1995 with two follow-up interviews in 1996 and 2001-2002. The longitudinal design of this dataset makes it possible to document stability and change in gender attraction, in the structure and quality of relationships to family members and peer groups, and in mental health status during the transition to adulthood. Linear regression, structural equation modeling, and social network analysis will be used to estimate the relationships between social structure, gender attraction, and mental health status across time. The study improves our understanding of the social structural arrangements that produce mental health disparities between adolescents with same-gender attractions and adolescents with opposite-gender attractions. Research findings can be used to develop intervention strategies at the group and community levels to reduce mental health problems among adolescents with same-gender attractions. [unreadable] [unreadable]
Effective start/end date03/4/0402/28/06


  • National Institute of Mental Health: $32,400.00
  • National Institute of Mental Health: $27,048.00


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