A Psychosocial Risk Model of Potentially Traumatic Events And Sexual Risk Behavior Among LGBTQ Individuals

Jillian R. Scheer, Nadav Antebi-Gruszka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) individuals face heightened risk of potentially traumatic events (PTEs) exposure, including hate crimes and childhood abuse. Past research demonstrates associations between PTEs exposure and sexual risk behavior; however, examining the indirect effect of PTEs on sexual risk behavior remains understudied among LGBTQ individuals. This study tested a path analysis model to inform interventions targeted to reduce sexual risk behavior, as conceptualized by condomless sex with casual partners without knowing the person’s HIV or sexually transmitted infection (STI) status, among LGBTQ individuals with PTEs exposure. Participants completed an online one-time survey and included 207 LGBTQ adults who experienced at least one PTE during the past year. Indirect effect results indicated that PTEs exposure was related to sexual risk behavior through serial associations between shame, loneliness, and substance use. Direct effect estimates indicated that greater PTEs exposure was associated with greater shame, loneliness, substance use, and sexual risk behavior. Greater shame was associated with greater loneliness, which was associated with greater substance use. Also, greater substance use was associated with greater sexual risk behavior. This study adds to the burgeoning body of literature on the relationship between PTEs exposure and sexual risk behavior among LGBTQ individuals. Clinical and counseling interventions for LGBTQ individuals with PTEs exposure should work to address modifiable psychosocial risk factors associated with sexual risk behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)603-618
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Trauma and Dissociation
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 20 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • LGBTQ issues
  • impact of trauma
  • psychosocial life events
  • risk factors
  • sex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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