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Physical Health Risk Among Gay Men Who Conceal Their Homosexual Identity

CITATION:  Cole, S.W., Kemeny, M.E., Taylor, S.E., Visscher, B.R.  (1996) Elevated Physical Health Risk Among Gay Men Who Conceal Their Homosexual Identity.  Health Psychology Vol. 15, No. 4, pp243-251.  

ABSTRACT:  This study examined the incidence of infectious and neoplastic diseases among 222 HIV seronegative gay men who participated in the Natural History of AIDS Psychosocial Study. Those who concealed the expression of their homosexual identity experienced a significantly higher incidence of cancer (odds ratio = 3.18) and several infectious diseases (pneumonia, bronchitis, sinusitis, and tuberculosis; odds ratio = 2.91) over a 5-year follow-up period. These effects could not be attributed to differences in age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, repressive coping style, health-relevant behavioral patterns (e.g., drug use, exercise), anxiety, depression, or reporting biases (e.g., negative affectivity, social desirability). Results are interpreted in the context of previous data linking concealed homosexual identity to other physical health outcomes (e.g., HIV progression and psychosomatic symptomatology) and theories linking psychological inhibition to physical illness.  


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