Emotional support among partnered sexual minority and heterosexual individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic

Kristen E. Gustafson, Wendy D. Manning, Claire M. Kamp Dush

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Emotional support, particularly support from family and friends, is essential to health outcomes especially for marginalized communities. Although emotional support is recognized as a critical resource, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, to date no research has examined access to support during the pandemic for sexual diverse populations. This study aims to apply minority stress theory by drawing on a new population-based data source of 3,642 respondents, the National Couples’ Health and Time Study (NCHAT), which oversampled sexual and gender diverse populations during the pandemic. We focus on two sources of emotional support: family members and friends. Exclusively heterosexual respondents relied more on emotional support from family than respondents who identified as exclusively gay/lesbian, bisexual including pan, omni, and queer, and those reporting another sexual identity or multiple sexual identities. However, respondents who did not identify as heterosexual relied more on emotional support from friends compared to exclusively heterosexual respondents. There were no significant differences among respondents with sexual minority identities in regard to family or friend support. Other factors, such as outness to friends and family, identity centrality, aggressions, and relationship satisfaction are found to be associated support from friends and family. The findings presented here add to a growing body of work on social support while adding sexual minority-specific factors that may affect receipt of, need for, and outcomes relating to support. This work contributes to understanding of the social climate and resources available to sexual diverse populations during a major public health crisis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102910
JournalSocial Science Research
StatePublished - Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The National Couples' Health and Time Study (1R01HD094081-01A1) is funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health . This project benefited from support provided by P2C infrastructure grants from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver NICHD of the NIH to the Minnesota Population Center ( P2CHD041023 ), Center for Family and Demographic Research ( P2CHD050959 ), and Ohio State University Institute for Population Research ( P2CHD058484 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023


  • COVID-19
  • Emotional support
  • Family support
  • Friend support
  • Identity centrality
  • LGBTQ+
  • Minority stress theory
  • Outness
  • Sexual minority

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural


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