Social Networks of LGBT Older Adults: An Integrative Review

Kelseanne Breder, Walter Bockting

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Social support is considered an imperative component of healthy aging and has been found to foster resilience against mental illness. The National Institute of Health has called for research to investigate social support as a protective mechanism for health disparities populations, including LGBT older adults. This integrative review is the first to comprehensively examine the characteristics of social networks maintained by LGBT adults age 50 and older. A comprehensive electronic literature search was conducted for articles published before September 2019. A manual search was also conducted among the reference lists of articles yielded. Articles that presented empirical data, described communities and social networks, and examined participants who self-identify as LGBT adults over the age of 50 were included. Nineteen articles met inclusion criteria. The Convoy Model of Social Relations was used to synthesize findings into categories of structure (size, composition, geographic proximity, and contact frequency), function (instrumental and emotional), and quality (positive and negative) of social support. Results indicate that diverse social networks are protective against age-related illness; intersectional minorities, and individuals who struggle with homophobia in the family of origin are at greatest risk for low network diversity, functional support deficits, and risks to psychological well-being. This review identifies that future research is needed to investigate the role that online social networks play in mediating social support needs in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)473-489
Number of pages17
JournalPsychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 3 2022


  • LGBT
  • aging
  • health disparity
  • social support
  • social wellbeing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • Gender Studies


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