Date of Award

Fall 12-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Director

Robin J. Lewis

Committee Member

Barbara A. Winstead

Committee Member

Cathy Lau-Barraco


Sexual minority women (SMW) are at increased risk for mental health disorders, substance abuse, and physical health problems compared to heterosexual women. For heterosexual individuals, romantic relationships have been found to be protective against a variety of health issues. Less research, however, has focused on the association between romantic relationships and health in same-sex couples. The purpose of this study was to examine the potential protective nature of being in a relationship for SMW and to test a model investigating the central role of relationship satisfaction in the association between individual, relationship, and societal factors and mental health and well-being among young women in same-sex relationships.

Women attracted to women were recruited from Facebook’s advertising platform based on their interests (e.g., Gay pride). In total, 665 SMW were in the final sample, including 432 partnered women and 233 single women. Participants completed an online survey consisting of measures of negative and positive sexual minority identity, social support, mental health, and well-being. Those in relationships also completed a subset of relationship-related measures. Partnered women reported better mental health (i.e., less anxiety and depression) and well-being (i.e., higher levels of self-acceptance, personal growth, environmental mastery, and purpose in life) than single women. The SEM model suggests that the Societal factor is important for the mental health and well-being of partnered SMW, with significant associations to mental health and well-being. Future research is needed to better understand the role of relationship satisfaction in the mental health and well-being of partnered SMW.


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