Intersectional stigma, self-efficacy, depression, and resilience: a Rasch analysis

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Background: Black men who have sex with men (BMSM) are disproportionally affected by negative health outcomes associated with stigma related to both their racial and sexual minority status. Foundational to understanding stigma is the ability to correctly measure this latent construct. The Rasch model is a probabilistic model for analyzing categorical data that was developed to improve the measurement of latent traits. This study, grounded in intersectional minority stress theory, reviewed the application of Rasch analysis in the HIV/AIDS literature (Aim 1) and used the Rasch model to calibrate person measures to assess the interrelationships among internalized stigma, resilience, self-efficacy, and psychologic well-being among BMSM (Aims 2 and 3).

Methods: For Aim 1, we conducted a systematic review of the literature following PRISMA guidelines. Aims 2 and 3 used data from a cross-sectional online survey of 151 HIV-negative BMSM in 2020. For Aim 2, we conducted Rasch analysis to assess the psychometric properties of the internalized racism (IR), internalized homophobia (IH), self-efficacy, and resilience scales. For Aim 3, we used linear regression and path analysis of the Rasch-calibrated person measures to examine the mediating and modifying effects of self-efficacy and resilience on the relationship between intersectional stigma and depressive symptoms.

Results: For Aim 1, after screening 183 articles, 45 articles were included in the analysis. Strengths and weaknesses of using the Rasch approach were summarized. For Aim 2, the final IR scale had a person reliability and separation of 0.91 and 3.13, respectively, and an item reliability and separation of 0.94 and 4.01, respectively. The final IH scale had a person reliability and separation of 0.88 and 2.72, respectively, and an item reliability and separation of 0.79 and 1.95, respectively. For Aim 3, IR (β=0.296, 95% CI [0.133, 0.458]) and IH (β=0.414, 95% CI [0.204,0.623]) were independently and positively associated with depression in multivariable models controlling for age, income, and relationship status. Resilience and self-efficacy modified the relationship between IH and depression (βIHxRES=-0.034, 95% CI [-0.060, -0.008] and βIHxSE=-.056, 95% CI [-0.113, 0.00], respectively), but there was no evidence of effect modification by resilience or self-efficacy on the association between IR and depression.

Public health implications: Our findings suggest that interventions targeting multiply marginalized groups such as BMSM that address co-occurring forms of stigma and foster positive self-evaluation and coping skills may reduce the negative consequences of internalized stigma on mental health outcomes.