Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Stacey L. Williams

Committee Members

Ginette C. Blackhart, Julia C. Dodd, Brittany T. Wilkins


Sexual minorities experience mental and physical health disparities in comparison to heterosexual individuals due to minority stress (Branstrom et al., 2016; Kerridge et al., 2017; Meyer, 2003). Positive psychology interventions have improved mental and physical health (Antoine et al., 2018; Lambert D'raven et al., 2015), and therefore these interventions have potential to address health disparities. The current study tested an identity-specific intervention (n = 30) to a general positive psychology intervention (n = 30) and a control group (n = 30) among sexual minorities. This built on a recent pilot study which tested the efficacy of an identity-specific intervention designed for sexual minorities and showed significant improvements in depressive and anxiety symptoms. Thus, I hypothesized that individuals in intervention conditions would have better mental health, physical health, and substance use outcomes than the control group. Additionally, outcomes of the identity-specific condition were compared to those of the general positive psychology intervention. Participants included 91 sexual minority adults that completed three surveys (baseline, one week after the intervention, one month follow-up) including outcomes measures (depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms, problematic drinking, problems associated with drug use, well-being, and self-rated health), potential covariates (anticipated stigma, internalized stigma, concealment) and manipulation checks (self-compassion, forgiveness, optimism, coping using humor, social support seeking). Fifty-three participants completed interventions featuring five intervention tasks eliciting self-compassion, optimism, forgiveness, humor, and social support seeking. Analyses included descriptive statistics, bivariate correlations, and multilevel modeling. Compared to the control condition, results showed significantly greater improvements in well-being (b = .40, p = .013), self-rated health (b = -.42, p = .006), and problems associated with drug use (b = -.97, p = .004) among participants in the intervention conditions. No significant differences emerged for depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms, or problematic drinking. Limitations include lack of power for analyses examining extended follow-up and comparing intervention types, as well as a number of history effects. Despite these limitations, the current study has potential to improve health outcomes and aid clinical practices. More research on positive psychology interventions with sexual minorities is needed.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.