Lamb, Kalina M. (2018). The moderating role of sexual orientation in the association between religiousity, spirituality, and hypertension: Results from a nationally representative sample.
Hypertension is a global concern and one of the leading risk factors of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Religiosity and spirituality (R/S) have been associated with decreased blood pressure and hypertension in heterosexual populations. There is a paucity of research examining these associations among non-heterosexual individuals. The current study seeks to assess the association between R/S and hypertension in a nationally representative sample of heterosexual, mostly heterosexual, and sexual minority individuals. Participants were 5,115 individuals from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health). Data was from Wave IV, collected in 2008. Participants had a mean age of 28.9 years (SD = 1.8), were 49.5% female, and were 80.2% White. The sample was divided into three sexual orientation categories: 85.7% heterosexual, 7.2% mostly heterosexual, and 7.2% sexual minority. Analyses included progressive general linear and logistic regression models with one model controlling for all relevant covariates and one model controlling for statistically significant covariates. Dependent variables were systolic and diastolic blood pressure (SBP/DBP), and increasing levels of clinical severity of hypertension (prehypertension and higher, hypertension 1 and 2, and hypertension 2). Religiosity, spirituality, and sexual orientation were the independent variables. Sexual orientation was represented in all models by heterosexual, mostly heterosexual, and sexual minority categories. Two dummy coded variables assessed differences between sexual orientation groups, with the sexual minority group as the referent. Each model examined interaction effects between “religiosity and sexual orientation” and “spirituality and sexual orientation.” Subsequent simple slope analyses were conducted for each significant interaction effect. Overall, greater religiosity was associated with increased BP (blood pressure) and hypertension for the sexual minority group. There was a trend in the heterosexual group that religiosity was associated with decreased BP. Generally, religiosity was not associated with BP and hypertension in the mostly heterosexual group. There were no significant main effects or interactions for spirituality. Unlike findings in heterosexual samples, religiosity was associated with increased hypertension among sexual minorities. Religiosity may have a negative impact on sexual minority health. Future research should continue to examine the complex ways R/S is associated with health outcomes based on sexual orientation.
Lamb, Kalina M.
San Diego State University
City of Publication
Ann Arbor, MI