Seeking Refuge in the Present Moment: A Qualitatively Refined Model of Dispositional Mindfulness, Minority Stress, and Psychosocial Health Among Latino/a Sexual Minorities and Their Families

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Racial/ethnic and sexual minorities may experience excess stress from social prejudice and structural disadvantage, which is associated with family relationship problems and poorer psychosocial health. There is increasing evidence that certain positive psychological processes can attenuate these negative outcomes at the individual and interpersonal levels; however, the mechanisms of these effects remain poorly understood. Based on previous research and two extant conceptual frameworks, we constructed a preliminary model of how dispositional mindfulness operated in the context of minority stress among Latino/a sexual minority young adults and their families. We then conducted semistructured interviews in a life history format with 21 Latino/a sexual minority young adults and 15 family members to test our preliminary model and refine it. We mixed content analysis and grounded theory techniques, whereby we initially used deductive coding with preestablished codes based on our preliminary model, and subsequently used inductive coding to account for novel categories in the interview data that could not be explained by the preliminary model. The refined model revealed pathways by which 5 constructs of dispositional mindfulness (act with awareness, observe, describe, nonjudge, nonreact) buffered negative effects of minority stress on psychosocial health in young adults and were qualitatively associated with compassion, acceptance of sexual minorities, and closeness among family members. Young adults reporting deficiencies in mindfulness reported greater suffering and negative coping related to minority stress. Our model provides a framework to explore modes of resilience and adaptation to minority stress and offers a basis for further refinement in other affected populations.

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