Le fonctionnement physiologique et cognitif en lien avec le stress chez les personnes LGBT


Robert-Paul Juster

CIUSSS de l'Est-de-l'Île-de-Montréal


Domaine : santé différentielle des sexes

Programme Chercheurs-boursiers - Junior 1

Concours 2019-2020

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people experience stigma that can strain their physical and mental health. To date, ‘stress-disease' pathways have rarely been studied using objective biological markers of stress among LGBT populations. For example, the stress hormone cortisol is important in promoting adaptation to stressful environments. When cortisol is overproduced when chronically stressed, this leads to problems with other biological systems. Allostatic load refers to this multi-systemic ‘wear and tear' that we index using neuroendocrine (e.g., cortisol) immune (e.g., inflammatory markers), cardiovascular (e.g., blood pressure), and metabolic (e.g., cholesterol) biomarkers. Chronic stress, cortisol, and AL are also related to cognitive problems due to malfunctions in brain regions that are in charge of emotion, memory, and attention that may impaired among stigmatized LGBT people.

Our goal is to assess how stigma ‘gets under the skin and skull' of LGBT individuals in two studies. Study 1 will assess the cortisol stress reactivity in a laboratory and cognitive functioning of 120 transgender people 21 and 29 years of age undergoing hormone treatments who will be compared to 120 cisgender people – that is, people who feel that their sex assigned at birth ("male" or "female") is consistent with their gender identity ("I feel like a man/woman"). Study 2 will assess allostatic load with 24 biomarkers and cognitive functioning among 300 LGBT older adults between the ages of 60 and 75 who will also be compared to cisgender and heterosexual adults. As a result of continued research, we expect to identify modifiable factors associated with resilience, which will inform the development and testing of interventions to promote health and wellbeing among LGBT people.