Do double minority students face double jeopardy? Testing minority stress theory.
Members of cultural minority groups tend to experience disproportionate amounts of psychological distress and disorders in comparison to the general population (Mays & Cochran, 2001; Szymanski & Stewart, 2010; U.S. Surgeon General, 2001). One explanation for this state of affairs is offered by minority stress theory (Meyer, 2003), which posits that members of cultural minority groups are exposed to frequent and deleterious stressors, such as prejudice, oppression, and discrimination. For example, because of societal factors such as harassment and discriminatory laws pertaining to marriage, child custody, and service in the military, gay men and lesbians have reported more mental health problems than have their heterosexual counterparts, including higher rates of substance use, affective disorders, and suicide (Cochran, 2001; Gilman et al., 2001; Herrell et al., 1999; Sandfort, dc Graaf, Bijl, & Schnabel, 2004). Similarly, members of racial and ethnic minority groups experience greater depression, anxiety, and helplessness than do European American individuals (Clark, Anderson, Clark, & Williams, 1999).
It seems plausible that members of multiple minority groups would experience additional psychological distress beyond that experienced by members of a single minority group. This possibility is known as the double jeopardy hypothesis (Ferraro & Farmer, 1996). For example, for lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) people who also are ethnic minorities, distress may result from (a) the additive effects of being discriminated against within the dominant culture because of one's race and sexual orientation and (b) pervasive heterosexism within communities of color (Lemelle & Battle, 2004; Pachankis & Goldfried, 2004). Contrary to the double jeopardy hypothesis, however, is the view that although members of multiple minority groups may face greater discrimination, they also may develop enhanced coping skills as a result of that discrimination. Thus, the psychological "risk" associated with being a double minority (Greene, 1994) may be offset by the development of hardiness and resiliency (Wilson & Miller, 2002).
The idea of risk and resiliency operating simultaneously in LGB persons of color has gained mixed support in recent research. For example, Moradi et al. (2010) found that, when compared with European American LGB individuals, LGB people of color experienced comparable amounts of heterosexist stigma and reported being equally comfortable disclosing their sexual orientation. However, it is interesting that LGB individuals of color reported disclosing their sexual orientation to a smaller number of people (Ragins, Cornwell, & Miller, 2003). With regard to resiliency, researchers using qualitative methodologies have shown that psychological hardiness among LGB persons of color may be fortified through individual and communal religious faith relationships (Fassinger & Arseneau, 2007; Miller, 2005). Furthermore, strategies that individuals have used to cope successfully with racism may help them contend with additional prejudices resulting from their sexual orientation (Wilson & Miller, 2002). Given that research has demonstrated that individuals can hold multiple identities and still develop a coherent and integrated sense of self, it can be hypothesized that these individuals possess sufficient resilience to help them manage the many social stressors associated with belonging to more than one minority cultural group (Singer, 2004).
Another explanation for why people who belong to more than one minority group may experience less distress has been presented by Purdie-Vaughns and Eibach (2008). These authors described a theory of "intersectional invisibility," exploring the meaning and consequences of having a marginalized status within a marginalized group. This theory, based on principles derived from social psychology, posits that "androcentrism, ethnocentrism, and heterosexism determine who will be defined as the prototypical person" (p. 388). Purdie-Vaughns and Eibach proposed that having multiple marginalized identities (e.g., African American women) can render a person invisible relative to individuals with a single marginalized identity (e.g., African American men). The theory may help explain how others perceive LGB persons of color as less visible than European American LGB people or heterosexual persons of color. As a result of being less visible members within larger cultural groups, these individuals actually may encounter less discrimination and prejudice.
In summary, rival hypotheses may be offered regarding the likelihood that LGB individuals of color will experience more severe psychological problems than will either European American LGB people or heterosexual people of color. It may be that such individuals experience greater distress because of multiple sources of discrimination and prejudice. Alternatively, it is possible that learned coping strategies, resilience, and relative invisibility offset the potential for LGB persons of color to experience greater psychological distress.
As colleges and universities become more diverse with respect to race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation, it seems imperative that counseling center staff expand their understanding of the complexities involved in students' experiences of multiple minority identities. In fact, according to the Guidelines for Psychological Practice With Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Clients (American Psychological Association, 2009), "psychologists must strive to recognize the challenges related to multiple and often conflicting norms, values, and beliefs faced by lesbian, gay, and bisexual members of racial and ethnic minority groups" (pp. 14-15). The purpose of our research was to investigate psychological distress among college students who identified as both racial and sexual minorities. The first step was to examine whether (a) racial/ethnic minority students reported greater psychological distress than European American students reported and (b) LGB students reported more psychological distress than heterosexual students reported. Then, psychological distress among LGB students of color was compared to that experienced by European American LGB students and heterosexual students of color, respectively. These questions were examined first among students seeking help from university counseling centers and then, more broadly, among college students in general.
Data for our study were obtained from the pilot study for the Center for Collegiate Mental Health (CCMH) and the CCMH-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA) survey. A description of the overall sample demographics and data collection methods can be found in an article by Hayes, Locke, and Castonguay (2011; this issue). Students whose race/ ethnicity or sexual orientation was not identified were excluded from analyses.
The first research questions we sought to answer were whether (a) among students seeking help from university counseling centers, racial/ethnic minority clients would report greater psychological distress than would European American clients and (b) nonheterosexual clients would report greater distress than would heterosexual clients. Because of small samples for some minority groups, all racial/minority clients were combined into a single group, as were all LGB clients. A multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was conducted in which the eight subscales of the Counseling Center Assessment of Psychological Symptoms (CCAPS) served as dependent variables and the two independent variables were race/ethnicity and sexual orientation. The MANOVA was statistically significant: F(8, 15364) = 74.45, [[eta].sub.p.sup.2] = .03, for race/ethnicity and F(8, 15364) = 16.64, [[eta].sub.p.sup.2] = .02, for sexual orientation, p < .001 for each. As reflected in Table 1, follow-up analyses of variance (ANOVAs) revealed that racial/ethnic minority clients reported more distress than did European American students on the CCAPS Depression, Hostility, Family Distress, and Academic Distress subscales, and European American students reported more distress related to substance
use. LGB clients reported greater distress than did heterosexual clients on the CCAPS Depression, Eating Concerns, Generalized Anxiety, Hostility, Family Distress, and Social Anxiety subscales.
Next, the psychological distress reported by racial/ethnic minority LGB clients was compared to that of both European American LGB clients and heterosexual racial/ethnic minority clients. First, for LGB clients only, a MANOVA was conducted in which the eight subscales of the CCAPS were the dependent variables and race/ethnicity was the independent variable. The MANOVA was statistically significant, F(8, 1540) = 4.90, [[eta].sub.p.sup.2] = .01, p < .001. Follow-up ANOVAs indicated that racial/ethnic minority LGB clients had higher Hostility scores but lower Substance Use and Social Anxiety scores than did European American LGB clients (see Table 2). Second, for racial/ ethnic minority clients only, a MANOVA was conducted in which the eight subscales of the CCAPS were the dependent variables and sexual orientation was the independent variable. The MANOVA was statistically significant, F(8, 3916) = 4.31, [[eta].sub.p.sup.2] = .01, p < .001. Follow-up ANOVAs indicated that LGB racial/ethnic minority clients had higher Depression, Substance Use, Generalized Anxiety, and Family Distress scores than did heterosexual racial/ ethnic minority clients (see Table 2).
This same process was repeated in a sample drawn from the general student bodies of 45 colleges and universities. Agaha, the first analysis was a MANOVA in which the eight subscales of the CCAPS served as dependent variables and the two independent variables were race/ethnicity and sexual orientation. The MANOVA was statistically significant: F(8, 15849) = 55.98, [[eta].sub.p.sup.2] = .03, for race/ ethnicity and F(8, 15849) = 45.04, [[eta].sub.p.sup.2] = .02, for sexual orientation, p < .001 for each. As shown in Table 3, follow-up ANOVAs revealed that racial/ethnic minority students reported more distress than did European American students, as reflected by their scores on the Depression, Hostility, Family Distress, Social Anxiety, and Academic Distress subscales; European American students reported more distress related to substance use. LGB students reported greater distress than did heterosexual students on all eight subscales. Next, the psychological distress reported by racial/ethnic minority LGB students was compared to both European American LGB students and heterosexual racial/ethnic minority students. First, for LGB students only, a MANOVA was conducted in which the eight subscales of the CCAPS were the dependent variables and race/ethnicity was the independent variable. The MANOVA was not statistically significant, F(8, 934) = 1.84, p = .067. As shown in Table 4, racial/ethnic minority LGB and European American LGB students reported similar amounts of distress across the eight subscales of the CCAPS. Finally, for racial/ethnic minority students only, a MANOVA was conducted in which the eight subscales of the CCAPS were the dependent variables and sexual orientation was the independent variable. The MANOVA was statistically significant, F(8, 2842) = 11.74, [[eta].sub.p.sup.2] = .03, p < .001. Follow-up ANOVAs indicated that LGB racial/ethnic minority students had higher scores on all subscales except Eating Concerns than did heterosexual racial/ethnic minority students.
This investigation was designed to examine the relative strengths of minority stress theory, the double jeopardy hypothesis, and a risk/resiliency framework to account for psychological distress among students of ethnic and sexual minority groups. Findings supported minority stress theory (Meyer, 2003), which posits that members of cultural minority groups experience heightened distress because of factors such as oppression, discrimination, and prejudice. When compared with European American students, racial/ethnic minority students reported more distress related to depression, hostility, social anxiety, family concerns, and academic performance. The same was true of racial/ ethnic minority counseling center clients, with the exception of social anxiety, which was experienced at levels similar to those experienced by European American clients. LGB students, as compared with heterosexual students, reported more distress related to depression, eating concerns, substance use, generalized anxiety, hostility, social anxiety, family concerns, and academic performance. These same findings were true of LGB clients, with the exception of substance use and academic distress, which were experienced at levels similar to those of heterosexual clients.
Thus, the results showed that students, and clients, of each minority group reported generally higher levels of clinical problems than did their majority counterparts. However, it is interesting that, relative to European American LGB students, LGB students of color did not evidence much additive distress for having double minority group status. They did, however, report more distress than did heterosexual students of color. The findings are rather complex because they deal with two minority groups (LGB students and racial/ ethnic minority students) from two different groups (students who were and those who were not counseling center clients). We will examine in detail the evidence for the double jeopardy hypothesis (Ferraro & Farmer, 1996).
First, as reflected in Table 3, LGB students from the general campus population scored higher on every CCAPS subscale than did heterosexual students. However, as Table 4 reveals, among LGB students, there was no main effect for race/ethnicity; racial/ethnic minority LGB students and European American LGB students reported similar amounts of distress on each CCAPS subscale. Thus, for LGB individuals in the general student body, belonging to a racial/ethnic minority group did not appear to be associated with any form of heightened psychological distress; therefore, the evidence from this portion of the research does not support the double jeopardy hypothesis. It could be that by the time LGB individuals are in college, they have developed enough coping skills and resilience (Greene, 1994; Wilson & Miller, 2002) and use sufficient on- and off-campus support mechanisms to such a degree that the additional stressors of belonging to a racial/ethnic minority group do not translate into more psychological distress. Alternatively, it may be that LGB students of color are accepted within LGB groups on campus, and, therefore, they are not subjected to increased discrimination and prejudice, at least from within LGB student communities.
General lack of support for the double jeopardy hypothesis was also found among double minority students who sought help from campus counseling centers. First, among LGB clients, belonging to a racial/ethnic minority group was not associated with increased distress, with the exception of hostility. LGB clients of color reported more distress related to hostility than did European American LGB clients. LGB clients of color did not score higher than did European American LGB clients on any other dimension of the CCAPS. With regard to hostility, it is important to note that although LGB clients of color reported more hostility than did European American LGB clients, the same was true for clients of all sexual orientations. That is, racial/ethnic minority client reported more hostility than did European American clients across all sexual orientations; thus, these findings were not specific to LGB clients.
A different picture emerged with regard to the double jeopardy hypothesis when one considers the data pertaining to LGB students of color relative to heterosexual students of color. Table 4 reflects strong support for the double minority hypothesis in this regard. Among racial/ethnic minority students, LGB students of color experienced greater distress than heterosexual students of color did on every dimension of the CCAPS except eating concerns. Likewise, among racial/ethnic minority counseling center clients, LGB clients of color reported more distress than did heterosexual clients of color related to depression, substance use, generalized anxiety, and family concerns. No differences were found between LGB clients of color and heterosexual clients of color in the areas of eating, hostility, social anxiety, or academic distress.
The data suggest that the double jeopardy hypothesis holds for LGB students of color but only relative to heterosexual students of color and not to LGB European American students. That is, students who are both sexual and ethnic minorities experience more distress than do heterosexual ethnic minority students but not more distress than do European American sexual minority students. The cause of this situation is unclear and cannot be ascertained from our research. On the surface, it does seem that for LGB students, belonging to an ethnic minority group is not associated with heightened psychological distress. However, among racial/ethnic minority students, being a sexual minority predisposes one to increased risk of distress along multiple dimensions. Of particular note in this group is psychological distress related to substance use. The data indicated that European American students (and clients) reported more distress related to substance use than did racial/ethnic minority students (and clients). Furthermore, European American LGB clients had higher scores on the Substance Use subscale than did racial/ethnic minority LGB clients. In contrast, however, racial/ethnic minority LGB clients reported more distress related to substance use than did racial/ethnic minority clients who were heterosexual; these findings were true of students in the general campus population as well.
Implications for Practice
The findings from these studies have important clinical implications for college counselors working with sexual and ethnic minority students. Viewed from one perspective, it seems important not to assume that students who are both ethnic and sexual minorities will necessarily experience heightened distress because of their double minority status. For example, LGB students of color tended to be no more distressed than LGB students who were European Americans. It may be beneficial for counselors to recognize the resiliency, strengths, support systems, and coping mechanisms these clients possess, perhaps particularly as a result of having learned to navigate the complexities of their sexual orientations. On the other hand, relative to their heterosexual ethnic minority peers, LGB clients of color experienced more distress related to depression, substance use, generalized anxiety, and family concerns. Rather than necessarily attributing distress to internal factors, it may be important for counselors to consider environmental factors that cause, or at least exacerbate, clients' difficulties in these areas. Findings suggest that LGB students of color may be at particular risk for substance abuse issues, which counselors should be aware of when conducting intakes, assessments, and outreach activities.
One additional practical consequence of these studies, as noted by Bieschke, Fassinger, Hardy, and Croteau (2008), is that for many LGB persons of color, support often is contingent upon hiding their sexual orientation from others. Thus, counselors may need to help LGB students navigate the communities to which they belong to identify where they are likely to find support because homophobia and heterosexism may be present within ethnic minority groups on campus.
Limitations and Directions for Future Research
In a review of the empirical research on the intersection of sexual orientation and race/ethnicity in African Americans, Asian Americans, Latino Americans, and Native Americans, Bieschke et al. (2008) noted that multiple minority stressors are apparent, and future research needs to more clearly identify the personal salience of individuals' multiple identities. We agree, and one of the limitations of the current research is that the personal meaning of one's sexual or ethnic identity for students was not measured. Bieschke et al. called for a strengths-based perspective in future research, rather than the more symptom-oriented approach used in the current studies, to further the understanding of how LGB persons of color express and negotiate their identities.
An additional caution that must be kept in mind in considering the counseling implications of the present research pertains to the interpretation of similar scores on the CCAPS between various cultural groups. For instance, among LGB clients and students, scores were similar for ethnic minorities and European Americans on virtually every dimension of distress. That does not necessarily mean, however, that LGB students of color do not face increased levels of prejudice, oppression, and discrimination that European American LGB students face. It could very well be the case that LGB students of color, by virtue of their double minority status, have developed particularly strong capacities to cope with adverse societal factors, as suggested by others (Greene, 1994; Wilson & Miller, 2002). In any case, the data clearly suggest that there are particular types of distress that are experienced at heightened levels by ethnic minority college students and sexual minority college students, including students seeking help at university counseling centers. Future research is needed to determine how best to serve these clients once they walk through the counselor's doors.
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Jeffrey A. Hayes, Caitlin Chun-Kennedy, and kstrid Edens, Counseling Psychology Program, and Benjamin D. Locke, Center for Counseling and Psychological Services, Pennsylvania State University. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Jeffrey A. Hayes, Counseling Psychology Program, Pennsylvania State University, 307 CEDAR Building, University Park, PA 16802 (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
TABLE 1 Main Effects for Race and Sexual Orientation Among College Counseling Center Clients Race/Ethnicity European Racial/Ethnic American Minority (n = 12,079) (n = 4,565) CLAPS Subscale M SD M SD Depression 1.52 (a) 0.93 1.63 (b) 0.94 Eating Concerns 0.99 0.91 0.98 (a) 0.88 Substance Use 0.80 (b) 0.87 0.59 (a) 0.79 Generalized Anxiety 1.59 (a) 0.97 1.56 (a) 0.94 Hostility 0.97 (a) 0.83 1.13 (b) 0.93 Social Anxiety 1.79 (a) 0.94 1.78 (a) 0.93 Family Distress 1.16 (a) 0.93 1.36 (b) 0.96 Academic Distress 1.85 (a) 1.02 2.00 (b) 1.04 Sexual Orientation Heterosexual LGB (n = 13,626) (n = 1,596) CLAPS Subscale M SD M SD Depression 1.53 (a) 0.93 1.69 (b) 0.90 Eating Concerns 0.98 (a) 0.90 1.05 (b) 0.90 Substance Use 0.75 (b) 0.85 0.76 (b) 0.90 Generalized Anxiety 1.56 (a) 0.96 1.69 (b) 0.95 Hostility 0.98 (a) 0.85 1.08 (b) 0.89 Social Anxiety 1.77 (a) 0.93 1.92 (b) 0.94 Family Distress 1.17 (a) 0.93 1.44 (b) 0.96 Academic Distress 1.88 (a) 1.03 1.92 (a,b) 1.03 Note. Means in the same row with different subscripts differ at p s .001. LGB = lesbian, gay, and bisexual; CLAPS = Counseling Center Assessment of Psychological Symptoms. TABLE 2 Counseling Center Assessment of Psychological Symptoms (CCAPS) Subscale Scores for Double Minority and Single Minority Clients LGB Clients European Racial/Ethnic American Minority (n = 1,008) (n = 541) CCAPS Subscale M SD M SD Depression 1.67 0.87 1.73 0.93 Eating Concerns 1.06 0.90 1.04 0.90 Substance Use 0.80 0.87 0.68 0.81 Generalized Anxiety 1.71 0.95 1.65 0.95 Hostility 1.04 0.83 1.16 0.98 Social Anxiety 1.96 0.94 1.83 0.94 Family Distress 1.42 0.96 1.48 0.96 Academic Distress 1.91 1.02 1.96 1.04 Heterosexual Clients Racial/Ethnic Minority (n = 3,384) CCAPS Subscale M SD Depression 1.61 0.94 Eating Concerns 0.96 0.88 Substance Use 0.59 0.79 Generalized Anxiety 1.55 0.94 Hostility 1.11 0.93 Social Anxiety 1.77 0.93 Family Distress 1.33 0.96 Academic Distress 2.01 1.04 Note. LGB = lesbian, gay, and bisexual. TABLE 3 Main Effects for Race and Sexual Orientation Among Students in General Race/Ethnicity European Racial/Ethnic American Minority (n = 12,294) (n = 2,851) CCAPS Subscale M SD M SD Depression 0.86 (a) 0.77 0.96 (b) 0.82 Eating Concerns 1.03 (a) 0.83 1.04 (a) 0.83 Substance Use 0.75 (b) 0.85 0.53 (a) 0.77 Generalized Anxiety 1.05 (a) 0.77 1.07 (a) 0.79 Hostility 0.67 (a) 0.69 0.78 (b) 0.80 Social Anxiety 1.55 (a) 0.86 1.61 (b) 0.86 Family Distress 0.78 (a) 0.78 0.94 (b) 0.83 Academic Distress 1.25 (a) 0.86 1.34 (b) 0.90 Sexual Orientation Heterosexual LGB (n = 14,202) (n = 943) CCAPS Subscale M SD M SD Depression 0.85 (a) 0.76 1.23 (c) 0.92 Eating Concerns 1.00 (a) 0.82 1.16 (b) 0.90 Substance Use 0.70 (b) 0.83 0.88 (c) 0.96 Generalized Anxiety 1.03 (a) 0.76 1.37 (b) 0.87 Hostility 0.67 (a) 0.70 0.94 (c) 0.85 Social Anxiety 1.54 (a) 0.85 1.82 (c) 0.94 Family Distress 0.79 (a) 0.78 1.21 (b) 0.96 Academic Distress 1.24 (a) 0.86 1.50 (b) 0.95 Note. Means in the same row with different subscripts differ at p [less than or equal to] .001. LGB = lesbian, gay, and bisexual; CCAPS = Counseling Center Assessment of Psychological Symptoms. TABLE 4 Counseling Center Assessment of Psychological Symptoms (CCAPS) Subscale Scores for Double Minority and Single Minority Students in General LGB Students European Racial/Ethnic American Minority (n = 737) (n = 206) CCAPS Subscale M SD M SD Depression 1.20 0.90 1.29 0.96 Eating Concerns 1.17 0.90 1.17 0.93 Substance Use 0.89 0.94 0.82 1.02 Generalized Anxiety 1.34 0.84 1.41 0.96 Hostility 0.91 0.80 1.06 0.96 Social Anxiety 1.82 0.94 1.82 0.95 Family Distress 1.16 0.91 1.36 1.05 Academic Distress 1.47 0.94 1.57 0.97 Heterosexual Students Racial/Ethnic Minority (n = 2,645) CCAPS Subscale M SD Depression 0.91 0.80 Eating Concerns 0.99 0.80 Substance Use 0.52 0.73 Generalized Anxiety 1.02 0.75 Hostility 0.75 0.77 Social Anxiety 1.57 0.86 Family Distress 0.89 0.80 Academic Distress 1.31 0.89 Note. LGB = lesbian, gay, and bisexual. Note. LGB = lesbian, gay, and bisexual.
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|Author:||Hayes, Jeffrey A.; Chun-Kennedy, Caitlin; Edens, Astrid; Locke, Benjamin D.|
|Publication:||Journal of College Counseling|
|Date:||Sep 22, 2011|
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