Online Homophobic and Racial Discrimination and Cardiovascular Health among Young Sexual Minority Men: Preliminary Evidence – UROP Spring Symposium 2021

Online Homophobic and Racial Discrimination and Cardiovascular Health among Young Sexual Minority Men: Preliminary Evidence

Sai Meghana Paidi


Pronouns: she/her

Research Mentor(s): Stephanie Cook, Assistant Professor
Research Mentor School/College/Department: Departments of Social and Behavioral Sciences and Biostatistics, New York University’s College of Global Public Health
Presentation Date: Thursday, April 22, 2021
Session: Session 4 (2pm-2:50pm)
Breakout Room: Room 11
Presenter: 6

Event Link


Background Much research documents the deleterious impact of discrimination on health outcomes of minority populations. In particular, emerging evidence suggests that experiences of discrimination can lead to physiological dysregulation which, in turn, can lead to poor cardiovascular health outcomes among racial/ethnic minorities. However, experiences in online environments (e.g., Twitter, Facebook) have been underexplored in the research literature despite the fact that they are pervasive among young adults. In particular, young sexual minorities may experience discrimination online due to their racial/ethnic identity and/or sexual minority identity. This, in turn, may impact processes of mental and physiological health among this population. The current study seeks to bridge the gap in the literature by exploring the association between experiences of homophobic and racial discrimination online and cardiovascular health among a sample of young sexual minority men (YSMM). Methods The current study sought to explore the association between perceptions of homophobic and racial/ethnic online discrimination and cardiovascular health among YSMM residing in the New York metropolitan area. Data came from a larger pilot project examining how exposure to minority stress influences cardiovascular health among n=101 YSMM residing in the New York metropolitan area. Respondents for the current study were taken from a sub-sample of n=25 participants who provided their social media information. Perceptions of online discrimination were measured with two questions. The first question asked participants to report whether or not they have experienced a racist or homophobic experience online (yes/no). The second question asked participants who reported experiencing a discriminatory online experience to assess how bothered they were by the racist and/or homophobic postings that they saw online. Response categories to this question ranged on Likert scale from 1=Hardly ever/Not at all to 5=Constantly/A great deal. Cardiovascular health was measured with carotid intima-media thickness (cIMT) measurements, which were obtained by trained sonographers for the study participants. Pearson’s correlation coefficients were conducted to assess the association between perceptions of discrimination and cIMT among YSMM. Results Results indicated that there was a moderate, positive correlation between experiences of adverse experiences in childhood and perceptions of discrimination online among YSMM that was trending in significance (r=.34, p<.12). Conclusions/Implications Results suggest that experiences of online discrimination in the form of homophobia and/or racism may have implications for the physical health of YSMM. Future research should be conducted with larger, more diverse sample sizes to further unpack the influence of online social environments on the physical health of YSMM. Authors: Sai Maghana Paidi, Megha Rajan, Christopher Giang, Nathan Hershberger, Ankitha Ramaiyer, Erica Wood, Stephanie Cook
Research Method: Survey Research

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