Toronto Metropolitan University
2022_Mental health services use and depressive symptom scores among gay.pdf (974.64 kB)

Mental health services use and depressive symptom scores among gay and bisexual men in Canada

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journal contribution
posted on 2024-04-04, 20:25 authored by Ivan Marbaniang, Eric Rose, Erica E. M. Moodie, Trevor HartTrevor Hart, Joseph Cox

Purpose: To evaluate the association between mental health services (MHS) use and depressive symptom scores among gay and bisexual men (GBM) and compare with heterosexual men in Canada.

Methods: We used data from the 2015-2016 cycles of the Canadian Community Health Survey. Depressive symptoms were assessed using the PHQ-9 questionnaire (prior two weeks). MHS consultations with any licensed mental health professional (prior year) were categorized as 0, 1, 2-11, ≥ 12. We fit linear regression models to quantify the associations between MHS use and PHQ-9 scores, with an interaction term for sexual identity (GBM and heterosexual men). Models were adjusted for socioeconomic and health-related indicators.

Results: Among 21,383 men, 97.3% self-identified as heterosexual and 2.7% as GBM. Compared to heterosexual men, GBM used any MHS (21% vs. 10%, p < 0.05) and consulted ≥ 2 health professionals for their mental health (6% vs. 2%, p < 0.05) in the preceding year more frequently. Overall, mean PHQ-9 scores were higher among GBM compared to heterosexual men (3.9 vs. 2.3, p < 0.05). Relative to no consultations, higher MHS use (2-11, ≥ 12 consultations) was associated with higher PHQ-9 scores (1.4-4.9 points higher). Associations between MHS use and PHQ-9 scores did not differ statistically between GBM and heterosexual men.

Conclusion: Our findings were inconclusive in demonstrating a difference between heterosexual men and GBM for the association between MHS use and PHQ-9 scores. However, GBM consistently had higher average PHQ-9 scores for every category of consultations. Considering the higher use of MHS and higher burden of depressive symptoms among GBM, more research is needed.