Join us in congratulating Dr. Deana Williams for successfully defending her dissertation on December 10, 2021.
An Exploratory Study on the Health and Wellbeing of Biracial/Multiracial and Bisexual Older Adults
We asked Deana to share a summary of her dissertation research.
"Bisexual people of color continue to be underrepresented within health-related research, despite evidence of striking health disparities and unique wellbeing needs compared to white bisexual groups. As an LGBTQ+ health researcher, I am passionate about using my work to explore, illuminate, and amplify the narratives of racially and ethnically diverse bisexual groups to promote visibility and advance health equity.
In 2019, I conducted a study that examined the identity-related health experiences of a gender-diverse group of biracial/multiracial and bisexual adults. While this work helped expand knowledge of the health needs of this community, most participants were young and middle adults (ages 18-30). Across gerontological, public health, and sexual minority health fields, biracial/multiracial and bisexual older adults (individuals ages 50 and above) are non-existent within previous literature. I recognized a critical need for insight into the social, mental, and physical concerns, challenges, and successes of aging biracial/multiracial and bisexual adults. So, I aimed to address these gaps through my dissertation research titled “An Exploratory Study on the Health and Wellbeing of Biracial/Multiracial and Bisexual Older Adults.”
My dissertation asked four questions: 1) How do biracial/multiracial and bisexual older adults conceptualize their identity histories? 2) What are biracial/multiracial and bisexual older adults’ self-reported health experiences, needs, and concerns? 3) What are biracial/multiracial and bisexual older adults’ experiences with social support and community connectedness? 4) What positive and negative experiences do biracial /multiracial and bisexual older adults attribute to their identities? Essential to my study is its exploration of the existing assets of this community. Too often, LGBTQ+ health research emphasizes disadvantage without accounting for how LGBTQ+ folks demonstrate resistance in their lives and persistence in adversity. By examining intersectional identity-based strengths, this study opens more possibilities for promoting wellness.
Findings from this study have implications for fostering resiliency, enhancing community based-resources, services, and programming, improving healthcare systems, and developing future gerontological studies."