Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 45, Issue 7, pp 1731–1744 | Cite as

Sexual Identity Mobility and Depressive Symptoms: A Longitudinal Analysis of Moderating Factors Among Sexual Minority Women

  • Bethany G. Everett
  • Amelia E. Talley
  • Tonda L. Hughes
  • Sharon C. Wilsnack
  • Timothy P. Johnson
Original Paper


Sexual minority identity (bisexual, lesbian) is a known risk factor for depression in women. This study examined a facet of minority stress prevalent among women—sexual identity mobility—as an identity-related contributor to higher levels of depressive symptoms. We used three waves of data from the Chicago Health and Life Experiences of Women study, a longitudinal study of sexual minority women (N = 306). Random effects OLS regression models were constructed to examine the effect of sexual identity changes on depressive symptoms. We found that 25.6 % of the sample reported a sexual identity change between Wave I and Wave II, and 24.9 % reported a sexual identity change between Waves II and III. Women who reported a change in sexual identity also reported more depressive symptoms subsequent to identity change. This effect was moderated by the number of years participants had reported their baseline identity and by whether the participant had initiated a romantic relationship with a male partner.


Sexual orientation Depression Identity development Sexual identity mobility Lesbians Bisexual women 



This study was supported by the National Institutes of Health and Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH) Grant K12HD055892, and by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) Grant R01 AA13328-01 and NIAAA Grant AA019974.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bethany G. Everett
    • 1
  • Amelia E. Talley
    • 2
  • Tonda L. Hughes
    • 3
  • Sharon C. Wilsnack
    • 4
  • Timothy P. Johnson
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychological SciencesTexas Tech UniversityLubbockUSA
  3. 3.Department of Health Systems ScienceUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA
  4. 4.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral ScienceUniversity of North DakotaGrand ForksUSA
  5. 5.Survey Research LaboratoryUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA

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