Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Elissa J Brown

Second Advisor

Andrea Bergman

Third Advisor

Raymond DiGiuseppe


Lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) emerging adults experience higher rates of trauma and discrimination, and subsequent PTSD and depression, than heterosexual emerging adults (Feinstein et al., 2012; Hatzenbuehler et al., 2008; Roberts et al., 2010). Our understanding of the relations between trauma/discrimination and psychiatric sequelae in LGB emerging adults is limited by: (1) uncertainty in the possible differential impact of LGB-specific trauma versus non-LGB-specific trauma, (2) uncertainty of the unique impacts of trauma and discrimination, and (3) lack of studies integrating cognitive theories of trauma (Brewin & Holmes, 2003) into Hatzenbuehler’s (2009) psychological mediation framework. This cross-sectional study included 82 gay men, 102 lesbians, 21 bisexual men, and 139 bisexual women (total N = 344; ages 18-25), all of whom experienced discrimination, trauma, and/or heard of other LGBs’ traumatic and/or discriminatory experiences. To understand the relations of trauma and discrimination to psychiatric sequelae, we investigated the unique and combined impacts of LGB-specific discrimination, trauma, and vicarious trauma and non-LGB-specific trauma on PTSD and depression symptoms. To test the psychological mediation framework, we evaluated whether blame cognitions and rejection sensitivity mediated these relations. Findings indicated that LGB-specific discrimination and vicarious trauma, and non-LGB specific trauma are positively and uniquely associated with PTSD and depression symptoms. Blame cognitions mediated the relations between discrimination, vicarious trauma, and non-LGB specific trauma, and PTSD and depression symptoms, supporting the psychological mediation framework. This study’s clinical implications include broader assessment of traumatic and discriminatory experiences and LGB-affirmative modifications for trauma-informed interventions post-trauma and discrimination.

Included in

Psychology Commons