Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Jeffrey A. Burr

Second Advisor

Edward A. Miller

Third Advisor

Karen Fredriksen-Goldsen


Network size and composition are structural components and perceived support is a functional component of social networks. How these social network characteristics are related to LGBT older adults’ emotional wellbeing is not well understood. I investigated these relationships using data from the first cross-sectional wave of Aging with Pride: National Health, Aging, and Sexuality/Gender Study (NHAS), a survey of 2,560 LGBT Americans aged 50 years and above, employing a series of mediated and moderated-mediated regression models. Results indicated that larger social networks were associated with more perceived support and perceived support partially mediated the association between network size and emotional wellbeing. Results also showed that stress was associated with poor emotional wellbeing via depletion of perceived support, but less so when LGBT older adults were embedded in larger networks. These findings were in line with the Convoy Model of Social Relationships and The Stress Process Model. Further, the results support Kondrat and colleagues’ (2018) observation that social network size has a moderating role, while social support has a mediating role between stress and emotional wellbeing. Also, the Theory of Homophily postulates that shared identity may enhance group cohesion and feeling supported. Accordingly, I observed that perceived support and its mediation role were stronger when older adults were embedded in LGBT networks and embedded in networks with older members compared to being embedded in non-LGBT and younger member networks. A larger network of non-LGBT older adults had a more direct beneficial association for LGBT older adults’ emotional wellbeing. My observations have practical implications for programs that aim to support LGBT older adults’ emotional wellbeing by strengthening social support through their social networks.


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