Mental health for men who have sex with men (MSM) and women who have sex with women (WSW)

Anna C. Salomaa, Jes L. Matsick

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

6 Scopus citations


This chapter reviews mental health research of sexual minorities who are defined by their same-gender sexual behavior. Women who have sex with women (WSW) and men who have sex with men (MSM) encompass not only those who identify as LGBQ+ but also people who identify as heterosexual or are unsure of their sexual orientation. The authors discuss the implications of this broad categorization on the study of mental disorders and psychological distress and present the typical rates of risk for WSW and MSM overall and within subgroups (e.g., heterosexual-identified WSW, Black MSM). This area of research is often hindered by the multiple ways in which MSM and WSW groups can be defined and the vast heterogeneity of people who fall within these categories. Further, because of the origins of WSW/MSM-terminology in HIV/AIDS research, there is a gendered imbalance in allocation of research funding toward MSM over WSW. Future research should address the limitations of this categorization system in understanding mental health by including multiple measures of sexuality to create a fine-grained understanding of which experiences of WSW/MSM transfer risk and by addressing the paucity of research on WSW and their mental health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Sexual and Gender Minority Mental Health
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9780190067991
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


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