Interface of Internalized Homophobia and Community Connectedness on Frequency of Doctor's Visits for Rural and Urban MSM in Oklahoma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Purpose: Men who have sex with men (MSM) face persistent risk of stigma, with past studies showing unequal treatments of MSM in health care settings. Contextual factors, such as internalized homophobia and connectedness to one's community, have shown to serve as a barrier or facilitator (respectively) with regard to MSM's decisions to seek preventative treatment. These studies, however, predominately feature urban populations, with less consideration given to rural MSM. The current study comparatively investigates these contextual factors between rural and urban MSM to detect differences in the frequency of doctor's visits. Methods: A 2-by-2 (rural/urban × doctor visit yes/no) multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was conducted to investigate if significant differences and/or interactions existed for internalized homophobia and community connectedness. Findings: Results show a significant interaction between rurality and doctor's visits in our sample of predominantly white, self-identified gay men. Higher levels of internalized homophobia and lower levels of community connectedness were seen in rural individuals who had visited a doctor in the past 12 months and in urban individuals who had not seen a doctor in the past 12 months. Conclusions: Study findings have implications for future public health research and for health promotion interventions, practices, and policies for MSM in rural areas. Social exclusion reinforces the invisibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) populations, particularly in rural areas. Stigma and marginalization of MSM promote structural barriers inhibiting care. Our results give evidentiary support for programs which inform the work of clinicians on mechanisms to create LGBT-inclusive practice settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)416-422
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Rural Health
Volume36
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2020

Keywords

  • community connectedness
  • gay and bisexual men
  • health care access
  • health disparities
  • internalized homophobia

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