Psychosocial factors and ageing in older lesbian, gay and bisexual people: a systematic review of the literature.J Clin Nurs. 2016 Dec; 25(23-24):3415-3437.JC
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
To synthesise and evaluate the extant literature investigating the psychosocial influences on ageing as a lesbian, gay or bisexual person, to develop understanding about these influences and guide future research in the area.
Research suggests there may be specific psychological and social factors relevant to ageing for individuals with a nonheterosexual identity.
A systematic review was conducted on empirical research involving lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals aged 60 or above.
The Cochrane Database, PsychINFO, MEDLINE, Web of Science and Google Scholar were searched and 41 studies met inclusion criteria. The majority had not been reviewed in earlier review articles.
Findings were within two domains: psychological, consisting of sub-themes relating to identity, mental health and body image; and social, consisting of relationships, social support, discrimination, caregiving and receiving, community, accessing services and housing. The results suggest lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals mostly adjust well to ageing identities, with mediating influences including self-acceptance and connection with peers. Challenges experienced included ageism and heteronormative health and social care services; intimate friendships, social support and respectful professionals mitigated such threats and facilitated successful ageing. Methodological issues related to sampling procedures, such as purposive sampling through the gay community and limited generalisability due to the homogeneity of participants. Additionally, there was a widespread lack of heterosexual control groups. However, most studies used appropriate measures and acknowledged inherent limitations.
Psychosocial influences included the challenge of societal stigma, but also resilience individuals demonstrate through a positive attitude. These factors must continue to be investigated for services to best meet the needs of this population.
RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE
Clinicians are well placed to assist individuals draw on resilience when facing ageing challenges. Also, clinicians should be aware older people may have prior negative experiences of accessing services and try to involve 'families of choice' in care planning.