NEW YORK — LGB individuals who live in communities with high levels of anti-gay prejudice have a shorter life expectancy by 12 years on average compared with their peers in less prejudiced communities, researchers from Columbia University’s Mallman School of Public Health announced in a press release last week.
“The results of this study suggest a broadening of the consequences of prejudice to include premature death,” Mark Hatzenbuehler, lead author, wrote. The study is available online.
In order to examine the relationship between prejudice and mortality, researchers constructed a measure capturing the average level of anti-gay prejudice in the communities where LGB individuals lived, beginning in 1988, using data on prejudicial attitudes from the General Social Survey, one of the primary sources of social indicator data in the social sciences.
This information on sexual orientation and community-level prejudice was then linked longitudinally to mortality data via the National Death Index, through 2008. The authors were able to examine whether mortality risk differed for LGB individuals who lived in communities that were characterized by high versus low levels of prejudice. By the end of the study, 92 percent of LGB respondents living in low-prejudice communities were still alive whereas only 78 percent of the LGB respondents living in high-prejudice communities were still alive, the press release said.
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