Positive Development and Changes in Self-Rated Health Among Young Sexual Minority Males: The P18 Cohort Study

F. Kapadia, P. A. D’Avanzo, S. H. Cook, S. Barton, S. N. Halkitis, Perry Halkitis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We seek to move beyond a deficits-based approach, which has dominated our understanding of health and wellbeing in in young sexual minority males (YSMM), by examining how indicators of positive development are associated with development of positive self-rated health in YSMM. Using data from a prospective cohort study of YSMM (n = 514; 18–22 years old; 36.9% Hispanic/Latino, 15.6% non-Hispanic Black, 30.2% White, 16.9% other/multi-racial), we examined how three measures of positive development–the Life Orientation Test, the Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS) and the Social Responsibility Scale (SRS) were associated with self-rated health (SRH), a valid and reliable measure of self-assessed general health status. Findings suggest that YSMM who self-identified as homosexual reported higher SRH while those who reported higher levels of substance use and mental health burdens reported lower SRH. Second, in linear growth models controlling for mental health burdens and substance use, higher scores on all measures of positive development were associated with higher ratings of SRH over time. In conclusion, the presence of positive development characteristics, specifically generalized optimism, life satisfaction and social responsibility, may buffer against negative SRH assessments. Health promotion programs focusing on positive development may more effectively promote health and well-being among YSMM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)304-313
Number of pages10
JournalBehavioral Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2019


  • positive development
  • self-rated health
  • young sexual minority males

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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