Bisexual Identity and Mental Health

Prevalence of Depression and Anxiety Among Bisexual People Compared to Gay, Lesbian, and Heterosexual Individuals: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

November 2017: I am happy to share that the above titled systematic review and meta-analysis that my PhD supervisor invited me to co-author, with a number of others, has now been published! Here is the abstract (and the link to the full-text here):

Over the past decade, evidence has accumulated to suggest that bisexual people experience higher rates of poor mental health outcomes compared to both heterosexual and gay/lesbian individuals. However, no previous meta-analyses have been conducted to establish the magnitude of these disparities. To address this research gap, we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies that reported bisexual-specific data on standardized measures of depression or anxiety. Of the 1,074 full-text articles reviewed, 1,023 were ineligible, predominantly because they did not report separate data for bisexual people (n = 562 studies). Ultimately, 52 eligible studies could be pooled in the analysis. Results indicate that across both outcomes, there is a consistent pattern of lowest rates of depression and anxiety among heterosexual people, while bisexual people exhibit higher or equivalent rates in comparison to lesbian/gay people. On the basis of empirical and theoretical literature, we propose three interrelated contributors to these disparities: experiences of sexual orientation-based discrimination, bisexual invisibility/erasure, and lack of bisexual-affirmative support. Implications for interventions to improve the health and well-being of bisexual people are proposed.

Positive and Negative Identity Experiences of Bisexual and Other Non-monosexual Young Adults

October 2016: Our second paper focusing on positive sexual identity experiences of young bisexual and other non-monosexual people is now published in the Journal of Homosexuality.


February 2016: Our first paper focusing on the negative sexual identity experiences of young bisexual and other non-monosexual people is now published in the Journal of Gay & Lesbian Mental Health.

Fall 2015: For her dissertation research, my colleague Corey Flanders conducted a mixed-methods, daily diary study examining the positive and negative identity experiences of young bisexual and other non-monosexual people. Here is one of the first publications from her study.

In collaboration with Corey and others on the Re:searching for LGBTQ Health team, I conducted qualitative data analysis and wrote up the qualitative findings of the daily diary component of Corey’s study.


Daily Microaggressions, Microaffirmations, and Well-Being of Bisexual Women

2017: Data analysis and writing up the results of this study is underway.

January 14, 2016 Update: Wow! “[The] response to our bi survey was so overwhelming it maxed out the survey in 12 hours. Thanks to everyone who promoted it and participated. We’ll analyze the results, create a measure, and then we’ll be testing and validating the measure in another survey soon. At the end we’ll have a validated measure of the positive and negative experience we have as bi women. Thanks for helping out!” – Margaret Robinson

January 13, 2016: The focus groups have been conducted and we are now in stage two of the project: the survey about bisexual* women’s positive and negative experiences.

*This survey is open to women (trans and cis inclusive) living in North America who identify as bisexual, pansexual, omnisexual, fluid, queer, two-spirit, or who are sexually and/or romantically attracted to more than one gender.

September 2015: I serve on the Research Advisory Committee for a project examining bisexual women’s experiences of stressors (or microaggressions) and supports (or microaffirmations). Lead by my colleagues Corey Flanders and Margaret Robinson, the aim of this project is to develop a validated measure that can be used to assess daily microaggressions and microaffirmations in order to better understand the relationship between these experiences and the mental health of bisexual women. Funded by Women’s Xchange (Women’s College Research Institute), this is a community-based, mixed-methods project, which will use data from focus groups and an online survey to inform the development of a quantitative measure.

Winter 2016: Another project that I am working on related to bisexual mental health is one that explores how bisexual women are portrayed in the context of cannabis use. This project emerged from my colleague Margaret Robinson’s work examining why bisexual women report high rates of cannabis use (yes, indeed, research suggests that bisexual women use more cannabis than lesbian and heterosexual women). From her focus groups, Margaret found that bisexual women use cannabis to cope with anxiety, pain, stress, and biphobia. Margaret’s study got a fair bit of media attention last spring and we are analyzing how different online media sources (e.g., Cosmopolitan, Bustle, Huffington Post, The Fix) have portrayed (both in text and images) the findings of her research.

Bisexual Health Resources:

Bisexual Health Fact Sheet (Rainbow Health Ontario)

Perceived Determinants of Mental Health for Bisexual People: A Qualitative Examination, L.E. Ross, C. Dobinson, & A. Eady (American Journal of Public Health)

This is Our Community: A Bisexual Anti-Stigma Campaign (Rainbow Health Ontario and Re:searching for LGBTQ Health)

  • Videos – Three short videos that feature bisexual people talking with their friends, family and partners about the challenges of being bisexual and how people in their life have loved and supported them through these challenges.  Plus, a video with service providers that speak to the importance of competence working with bisexual individuals. These videos provide positive images of bisexuality and demonstrate how individuals can support bisexual people in their communities.
  • Posters and Postcards