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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program

Public Health

Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Depression and anxiety are among the most prevalent forms of mental illness in the U.S, affecting an estimated 18% of the population. Recent studies have shown that sexual minority women may undergo sexual experiences that affect their risk of anxiety and depression. However, prior studies of this association are sparse and have largely been conducted among sexual majorities and have yet to examine differences between vulnerable sexual orientation groups. Therefore, we evaluated the relationship between sexual experiences (i.e., sexual assertiveness, sexual self-efficacy, and outness) and anxiety and depression among young sexual minority women in a cross-sectional study (N=328) from the Young Sexual Minority Women’s Experiences with Sexual Violence study, 2017-2018. We used multivariable linear regression models to examine the relationship between sexual experiences and anxiety and depression while adjusting for important risk factors. Overall, findings indicate that sexual minority women who reported low sexual experiences reported more anxiety and depression. Bisexual/pansexual/fluid women had higher sexual assertiveness, sexual self-efficacy, anxiety, and depression scores and lower outness scores compared to lesbian women. Among both lesbian and bisexual/pansexual/fluid individuals, those who had higher sexual assertiveness scores also had lower anxiety scores Interventions aiming to improve mental health of sexual minority women should utilize the promotion of sexual experiences.


First Advisor

Nicole VanKim

Second Advisor

Elizabeth Bertone-Johnson

Included in

Epidemiology Commons