Experiences, motivations, and impacts of sexual orientation change efforts: Effects on sexual identity distress and mental health among sexual minorities

Chun Ho Randolph CHAN, Janice Sin Yu LEUNG, Dino Ching Kwong WONG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

Abstract

Introduction    While accumulating evidence shows that sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) are harmful and ineffective, SOCE is still highly prevalent in some regions where homosexuality is heavily stigmatized. This study investigated the experiences, motivations, and impacts of SOCE among sexual minorities in Hong Kong and examined the mediating role of sexual identity distress in the relationship between SOCE and mental health.
Methods    A total of 219 sexual minority individuals completed a questionnaire on SOCE in 2020–2021. They were asked to report their experiences, motivations, perceived effectiveness, benefits, and harms of SOCE. They were also assessed on sexual identity distress, depressive and anxiety symptoms, and suicidality.
Results    Religious beliefs and interpersonal concerns were the primary motivations for SOCE. Participants who had experienced SOCE showed significantly higher levels of internalized homonegativity, identity uncertainty, and difficult process than their counterparts who had not experienced SOCE. They were also at a greater risk of developing depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation. Such discrepancy in mental health could be explained by heightened levels of sexual identity distress experienced by individuals who had experienced SOCE.
Conclusions    This study was the first to characterize the experiences and impacts of SOCE in Hong Kong and provided empirical evidence for the role of sexual identity distress as a key mechanism mediating the relationship between SOCE and mental health. Copyright © 2021 The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSexuality Research and Social Policy
Early online date08 Jan 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 08 Jan 2022

Citation

Chan, R. C. H., Leung, J. S. Y., & Wong, D. C. K. (2022). Experiences, motivations, and impacts of sexual orientation change efforts: Effects on sexual identity distress and mental health among sexual minorities. Sexuality Research and Social Policy. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1007/s13178-021-00669-5

Keywords

  • Sexual orientation change efforts
  • Sexual identity distress
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Anxiety symptoms
  • Suicidal ideation

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