Has the pandemic exacerbated LGBTQ+ inequalities in health?

Contact: Laia Becares Email: laia.becares@kcl.ac.uk  Department: Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, School of Global Affairs Institution: King’s College London Project timeline: There is flexibility in the period of the internship, to suit the student’s availability. Project duration: 13 weeks Closing date: December 8th, 2023 Expertise required: Experience in quantitative data analysis Project description: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and questioning (LGBTQ+) people have experienced a marked deterioration of mental health outcomes during the Covid-19 pandemic, as many were confined in households that may were not supportive of their sexual orientation or gender identity, were not able to access safe spaces, and experienced harassment due to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Members of the supervisory team have published work that has evidenced these associations, showing high rates of depressive symptomatology and anxiety, and increased rates of harassment and discrimination among LGBTQ+ people during the Covid-19 pandemic (Kneale and Becares, 2020; Becares & Kneale 2022). What is still unknown is whether the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing LGBTQ+ inequalities in physical and mental health. Prior to January 2020, there was well-documented evidence that LGBTQ+ people had higher rates of depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and self-harm compared to heterosexual and cisgender populations. There was also robust evidence documenting increased likelihood of experiencing crime and violence, including within the home. LGBTQ+ people also had high rates of isolation, and the nature of their social networks, which are less likely to rely on kin relationships, meant that they were at increased risk of further social isolation and worsening mental health following social distancing and lockdown measures. While we have documented the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of LGBTQ+ people, we are still examining whether pre-existing health and social inequalities have been exacerbated as a result of measures taken to respond to the pandemic. This student will be embedded within a research team that is using quantitative analyses of existing datasets to understand whether the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated pre-existing inequalities in health experienced by LGTBQ+ people. Description of the work involved: The student will undertake longitudinal analyses of large quantitative datasets to examine the extent and magnitude of LGBTQ+ inequalities in health pre and post pandemic. The particular health outcomes to be examined will be selected in discussion with the student – there is flexibility to ensure the student’s expertise and interest overlap with the project. The student will contribute to writing a publication for a peer-reviewed journal, co-authoring the manuscript, and will be invited to present findings in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, and in national conferences. Student Benefits: The student will benefit from being embedded in a large research team, composed of the supervisor (Professor Becares), a postdoctoral researcher, and academics in other institutions (UCL). They will receive mentorship around quantitative data analyses, will contribute to writing study findings for peer-reviewed publications, and will be invited to present their work in the Department, and to external audiences.