Psychological Connection to the Gay Community and Negative Self-Appraisals in Middle-Aged and Older Men Who Have Sex with Men: The Mediating Effects of Fitness Engagement

Mark Brennan-Ing, Sabina Haberlen, Deanna Ware, James E. Egan, Andre L. Brown, Steven Meanley, Frank J. Palella, Robert Bolan, Judith A. Cook, Chukwuemeka N. Okafor, M. Reuel Friedman, Michael W. Plankey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives: Connections to the gay community may elicit negative self-appraisals among men who have sex with men (MSM), which may be exacerbated for people with HIV (PWH). Fitness engagement may mediate self-appraisals by maintaining or improving appearance and health. We hypothesized that gay community connections would be positively related to negative self-appraisal and explored whether this association would be mediated by fitness engagement and moderated by HIV status. Method: Data were obtained from the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Healthy Aging study (N = 1,026; PWH n = 525; people without HIV [PWOH] n = 501). Structural equation modeling (SEM) examined associations between gay community connections, negative self-appraisal (body image dissatisfaction, self-perception of aging), and fitness engagement (physical activity, motivation to be fit). Multiple-group SEM tested the moderating effects of HIV serostatus. Results: The SEM fit the data well (root mean square error of approximation = 0.056; 90% CI: 0.046, 0.066). Connection to the gay community was inversely related to negative self-appraisals and positively related to fitness engagement. Fitness engagement mediated the association between community connections and negative self-appraisal and was inversely related to negative self-appraisals. Among PWH, the association between community connections and self-appraisal was weaker and the effect of fitness engagement on negative self-appraisal was stronger compared to PWOH. Discussion: Connection to the gay community may be a source of resilience for aging MSM by lessening negative self-appraisals and promoting strategies that address body image dissatisfaction and self-perceptions of aging. Interventions facilitating connections to the gay community may support healthy aging in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-49
Number of pages11
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Volume77
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022

Keywords

  • Coping
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Sexual minority
  • Social support
  • Subjective age

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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