Differential effects of family and friend support in sexual minority aging adults: Analysis of MIDUS 3


  • Changhui Song, Ph.D. Research Center on Social Work and Social Governance, Social Affairs College, Henan Normal University, Henan, China https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1043-6812
  • Shinye Kim University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2323-5692
  • Bethany Canales Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI, USA
  • Hui Xie Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, USA




sexual minority, aging, discrimination, psychological well-being, social support


Background: Sexual minorities experience disproportionate stress from historical and current oppression and social discrimination/isolation compared to their heterosexual counterparts, leading to greater risks of adverse mental health. Although social support serves as a significant protector buffering stress on physical and mental health, little is known about its effect on psychological well-being among sexual minority aging adults.

Study objective: We aimed to explore the effects of social support from family and family on three psychological outcomes: life satisfaction, self-esteem, and social well-being: between sexual minority and heterosexual aging adults using national representative data from the 2013-2014 Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS 3) in the U.S.

Methods: Key variables included: sexual orientation, family support, friend support, life satisfaction, self-esteem, and social well-being. We conducted adjusted, multiple linear regressions to examine life satisfaction/self-esteem/social well-being in relation to perceived discrimination, family support, friend support, and two-way interactions using backward stepwise regression.

Results: Of the 2,596 U.S. participants (Mean[age]=64.19; SD=11.0), 3% identified as sexual minorities and 9.7 % were racial/ethnic minorities. Sexual minority participants were more likely to perceive discrimination and less likely to have family support compared to their heterosexual counterparts. Regarding to adjusted linear regression models, heterosexual participants with greater family support had greater psychological wellbeing compared to their sexual minority counterparts with greater family support. However, sexual minority participants with greater friend support experienced a steeper increase in psychological outcomes based on life satisfaction, self-esteem, and social well-being compared to heterosexual participants with greater friend support.

Contribution to Evidence-Based Care: The findings suggest that sexual minority aging adults experience disproportionately more lifetime discrimination and lower family support compared to their heterosexual peers. Future studies and social programs should address the differential effects of family and friend support on physical and psychological indicators among sexual minority aging adults.


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How to Cite

Song, Ph.D., C., Kim, S., Canales, B., & Xie, H. (2023). Differential effects of family and friend support in sexual minority aging adults: Analysis of MIDUS 3. International Healthcare Review (online). https://doi.org/10.56226/57



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