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Bisexual Identity: Implications for Mental and Sexual Health

This project represents collaborative work between Nathan Grant Smith (University of Houston), Lori Ross (Center for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto) and Jonathan Mohr (University of Maryland, Washington, DC).

Bisexual men represent a population that is under-represented in research. Studies often pool samples of bisexual men together with those of gay men despite possible differences between the two groups. Indeed, recent studies have shown that bisexual men have different patterns of mental health outcomes and sexual behaviors than gay, lesbian, or heterosexual individuals. The reasons for these differences are not well understood due to the paucity of research on bisexual men.

Our team will examine whether popular theories used to explain mental health and sexual risk behavior in gay men also apply to bisexual men. The theories under study are: the minority stress theory, the syndemic theory, the theory of planned behavior, and the health belief model. Using a multiplicity of theories will allow us to determine which theory better explains the health disparities found in other studies between bisexual men and other men. The results of the proposed research will have important implications for identifying resilience factors and tailoring interventions to bisexual men.

This project is funded by the Institute of Gender and Health of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.