Rural-Urban Differences in Mental Health, Resilience, Stigma, and Social Support Among Young Australian Gay Men

Anthony Lyons, Warwick Hosking, Tomas Rozbroj

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Depression and anxiety are common among young gay men, particularly in comparison with their heterosexual counterparts. Little is known about the mental health and well-being of those living in rural areas, where access to support and opportunities for connecting with other gay men may be relatively limited. We examined differences in the well-being of young rural and urban Australian gay men, including mental health, resilience, stigma-related challenges, and social support. Methods: A national online survey was conducted involving 1,034 Australian gay-identified men aged 18-39 years. Findings: All analyses adjusted for sociodemographic differences between the rural and urban samples. On average, rural men had significantly lower self-esteem, lower life satisfaction, lower social support, and were significantly more likely to be psychologically distressed, concerned about acceptance from others, and to conceal their sexual orientation compared to urban gay men. While resilience among the rural group was lower, this was no longer significant following sociodemographic adjustment. An examination of psychosocial predictors of psychological distress in the rural sample revealed that lower education and lower tangible support independently predicted greater distress. Conclusions: Young rural Australian gay men appear to be at a considerable disadvantage with regard to mental health and well-being compared with their urban counterparts, and they may need particular attention in mental health prevention and treatment programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-97
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Rural Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Health disparities
  • Men who have sex with men
  • Mental health
  • Rural
  • Social determinants of health

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