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date: 19 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Emerging evidence demonstrates that sexual minority individuals experience disproportionate physical health burdens compared to heterosexuals because of their exposure to stigma. Due in part to increased public recognition of this stigma, recent decades have witnessed the collection of high-quality data exploring its links with adverse health. This chapter reviews this accumulating evidence. It first describes historical trends that have enabled the scientific study of sexual minority physical health. Next, it reviews sexual orientation disparities in physical health and factors that have been proposed to account for these disparities, with a particular focus on stigma and minority stress as precursors of adverse health. It then outlines potential cognitive–affective, behavioral, and physiological processes linking minority stress with poor health. It also highlights bidirectional processes that might operate between stigma and health. The chapter concludes by suggesting several promising opportunities for future research in this nascent field of inquiry.

Keywords: sexual minority, lesbian, gay, bisexual, minority stress, structural stigma, mental health, substance use, physical health, coping, interventions

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