Life Satisfaction Across Adulthood in Bisexual Men and Women: Findings from the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) Study
- 253 Downloads
The number of lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) adults aged 50 and older is projected to reach 5 million in the U.S. by 2030 (Fredriksen-Goldsen, Kim, Shiu, Goldsen, & Emlet, 2015). Older bisexuals experience more negative mental and physical health outcomes when compared to both heterosexuals and other sexual minorities (Fredriksen-Goldsen, Shiu, Bryan, Goldsen, & Kim, 2017). As bisexuals are the numeric majority of sexual minorities in the U.S. (Herbenick et al., 2010), bisexual aging processes are critical to understand if researchers wish to reduce sexual minority health disparities and promote healthy aging. In the current study, we use a national probability sample of adults from the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) study to assess life satisfaction across an 18-year period. We aimed to identify whether life satisfaction—an indicator of psychological health and well-being—is similar for same-age bisexual, lesbian and gay, and heterosexual midlife individuals, and whether sexual orientation predicts change in life satisfaction across adulthood. Further, we tested whether life satisfaction among bisexuals changes at the same rate and in the same pattern as for lesbian, gay, and heterosexual individuals. Overall, we found a linear pattern of increase in life satisfaction across adulthood. However, when we accounted for sexual orientation, a different pattern emerged for bisexuals. Whereas heterosexuals and lesbian and gay individuals experienced increases in life satisfaction across adulthood, bisexuals’ life satisfaction did not increase over this period. Implications for bisexual health and well-being are discussed.
KeywordsBisexual Life satisfaction Older adults Midlife LGB aging Sexual orientation
Britney M. Wardecker is partially supported by National Institute on Aging Grant T32 AG049676 to the Pennsylvania State University. Since 1995, the MIDUS study has been funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Research Network and by the National Institute on Aging Grants P01-AG020166 and U19-AG051426.
- Aldwin, C. M., & Levenson, M. R. (2001). Stress, coping, and health at mid-life: A developmental perspective. In M. E. Lachman (Ed.), Handbook of midlife development (pp. 188–214). New York, NY: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Baltes, P. B., Reese, H. W., & Nesselroade, J. R. (1977). Life-span developmental psychology: Introduction to research methods. Monterey, CA: Brooks-Cole.Google Scholar
- Bostwick, W. B., Boyd, C. J., Hughes, T. L., & McCabe, S. E. (2010). Dimensions of sexual orientation and the prevalence of mood and anxiety disorders in the United States. American Journal of Public Health, 100(3), 468–475. https://doi.org/10.2105/ajph.2008.152942.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Brim, O. G., Baltes, P. B., Bumpass, L. L., Cleary, P. D., Featherman, D. L., Hazzard, W. R., … Shweder, R. A. (2007). National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS 1), 1995–1996. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) [distributor]. Retrieved from http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR02760.v11.
- Brim, O. G., Ryff, C. D., & Kessler, R. C. (2004). How healthy are we? A national study of well-being at midlife. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Charles, S. T., & Carstensen, L. L. (2009). Socioemotional selectivity theory. In H. T. Reis & S. Sprecher (Eds.), Encyclopedia of human relationships (pp. 1578–1581). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
- Charles, S. T., & Carstensen, L. L. (2010). Social and emotional aging. Annual Review of Psychology, 61, 383–409. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.psych.093008.100448.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Choi, S. K., & Meyer, I. H. (2016). LGBT aging: A review of research findings, needs, and policy implications. Los Angeles: The Williams Institute.Google Scholar
- Cochran, S. D., Sullivan, J. G., & Mays, V. M. (2003). Prevalence of mental disorders, psychological distress, and mental health services use among lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults in the United States. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 71(1), 53–61. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-006X.71.1.53.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Corliss, H. L., Cochran, S. D., & Mays, V. M. (2002). Reports of parental maltreatment during childhood in a United States population-based survey of homosexual, bisexual, and heterosexual adults. Child Abuse and Neglect, 26(11), 1165–1178. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0145-2134(02)00385-x.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- DeNeve, J. E., Diener, E., Tay, L., & Xuereb, C. (2013). The objective benefits of subjective well-being. In J. Helliwell, R. Layard, & J. Sachs (Eds.), World happiness report 2013 (pp. 54–79). New York, NY: UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network.Google Scholar
- de Vries, B. (2009). Aspects of life and death, grief and loss in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. In K. J. Doka & A. S. Tucci (Eds.), Living with grief: Diversity in end-of-life care (pp. 243–257). Washington, DC: Hospice Foundation of America.Google Scholar
- Dworkin, S. H. (2006). The aging bisexual: The invisible of the invisible minority. In D. C. Kimmel, T. Rose, & S. David (Eds.), Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender aging: Research and clinical perspectives (pp. 36–52). New York, NY: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
- Fleeson, W. (2004). The quality of american life at the end of the century. In O. G. Brim, C. D. Ryff, & R. C. Kessler (Eds.), How healthy are we? A national study of well-being at midlife (pp. 252–272). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Fredriksen-Goldsen, K. I., Kim, H. J., Barkan, S. E., Balsam, K. F., & Mincer, S. L. (2010). Disparities in health-related quality of life: A comparison of lesbians and bisexual women. American Journal of Public Health, 100(11), 2255–2261. https://doi.org/10.2105/ajph.2009.177329.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Fredriksen-Goldsen, K. I., Kim, H.-J., Barkan, S. E., Muraco, A., & Hoy-Ellis, C. P. (2013). Health disparities among lesbian, gay, and bisexual older adults: Results from a population-based study. American Journal of Public Health, 103(10), 1802–1809. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2012.301110.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Fredriksen-Goldsen, K. I., Kim, H. J., Emlet, C. A., Muraco, A., Erosheva, E. A., Hoy-Ellis, C. P., … Petry, H. (2011). The aging and health report: Disparities and resilience among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender older adults. Seattle: Institute for Multigenerational Health.Google Scholar
- Fredriksen-Goldsen, K. I., Shiu, C., Bryan, A. E., Goldsen, J., & Kim, H. J. (2017). Health equity and aging of bisexual older adults: Pathways of risk and resilience. Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 72(3), 468–478. https://doi.org/10.1093/geronb/gbw120.Google Scholar
- Gonzales, G., Przedworski, J., & Henning-Smith, C. (2016). Comparison of health and health risk factors between lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults and heterosexual adults in the United States: Results from the National Health Interview Survey. JAMA Internal Medicine, 176(9), 1344–1351. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.3432.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Grossman, A. H., D’Augelli, A. R., & Hershberger, S. L. (2000). Social support networks of lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults 60 years of age and older. Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 55(3), 171–179. https://doi.org/10.1093/geronb/55.3.P171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Hamarat, E., Thompson, D., Zabrucky, K. M., Steele, D., Matheny, K. B., & Aysan, F. (2001). Perceived stress and coping resource availability as predictors of life satisfaction in young, middle-aged, and older adults. Experimental Aging Research, 27(2), 181–196. https://doi.org/10.1080/036107301750074051.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Herbenick, D., Reece, M., Schick, V., Sanders, S. A., Dodge, B., & Fortenberry, J. D. (2010). Sexual behavior in the United States: Results from a national probability sample of men and women ages 14–94. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 7(5), 255–265. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1743-6109.2010.02012.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Hoffman, L. (2015). Longitudinal analysis: Modeling within-person fluctuation and change. New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Institute of Medicine. (2011). The health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people: Building a foundation for better understanding. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.Google Scholar
- Lachman, M. E., Teshale, S., & Agrigoroaei, S. (2015). Midlife as a pivotal period in the life course: Balancing growth and decline at the crossroads of youth and old age. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 39(1), 20–31. https://doi.org/10.1177/0165025414533223.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Raudenbush, S. W., & Bryk, A. S. (2002). Hierarchical linear models: Applications and data analysis methods (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
- Rauma, P. H., Koivumaa-Honkanen, H., Williams, L. J., Tuppurainen, M. T., Kroger, H. P., & Honkanen, R. J. (2014). Life satisfaction and bone mineral density among postmenopausal women: Cross-sectional and longitudinal associations. Psychosomatic Medicine, 76(9), 709–715. https://doi.org/10.1097/psy.0000000000000114.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Ryff, C. D., Almeida, D. M., Ayanian, J., Binkley, N., Carr, D. S., Coe, C., … Williams, D. (2017). National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS 3), 2013–2014. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) [distributor]. Retrieved from http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR36346.v5.
- Ryff, C. D., Almeida, D. M., Ayanian, J., Carr, D. S., Cleary, P. D., Coe, C., … Williams, D. (2012). National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS 2), 2004–2006. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) [distributor]. Retrieved from http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR04652.v6.
- Siahpush, M., Spittal, M., & Singh, G. K. (2008). Happiness and life satisfaction prospectively predict self-rated health, physical health, and the presence of limiting, long-term health conditions. American Journal of Health Promotion, 23(1), 18–26. https://doi.org/10.4278/ajhp.061023137.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Thomas, M. L., Kaufmann, C. N., Palmer, B. W., Depp, C. A., Martin, A. S., Glorioso, D. K., … Jeste, D. V. (2016). Paradoxical trend for improvement in mental health with aging: A community-based study of 1546 adults aged 21-100 years. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 77(8), e1019–e1025. https://doi.org/10.4088/JCP.16m10671.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2012). Healthy people 2020 objectives: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender health. Retrieved from https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/lesbian-gay-bisexual-and-transgender-health.
- Wallace, S. P., Cochran, S. D., Durazo, E. M., & Ford, C. L. (2011). The health of aging lesbian, gay and bisexual adults in California. Policy Brief (UCLA Center for Health Policy Research) (Pb2011-2012) (pp. 1–8).Google Scholar