China: Loneliness heightened among gay men in certain age group

Gay men in China ages 25–29 are eight times more likely to feel criticized and rejected compared with men in that country ages 20 or younger, new University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa research shows.

The reason may be that 25- to 29-year-olds tend to be out of college and in the workforce, where they may face overwhelming social discrimination, according to a study co-authored by Assistant Professor Thomas Lee in the Office of Public Health Studies at the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work.

“There is great pressure from society and family that may be imposed on Chinese gay men,” said Lee. “We found that these men feel criticized and rejected, and that these feelings are linked with loneliness.”

The study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, is part of a recent effort among public health researchers to develop a better understanding of the mental health of the LGBTQ community.

Study methodology

Lee and colleagues administered questionnaires to 367 gay men in China. Some of the surveys were conducted face-to-face, but the majority were administered online. More specifically, the link to the survey was shared with live-chat applications specifically designed for gay men in China.

The men answered questions that allowed the researchers to measure feelings of loneliness and whether the study subjects were experiencing depression, anxiety or other psychological problems.

Several of the questions were aimed at measuring the men’s degree of “interpersonal sensitivity,” defined as a person’s propensity to perceive and elicit criticism and rejection from others. People who are high in interpersonal sensitivity may have difficulty in communicating with others and are susceptible to depression and anxiety.

Read more via University of Hawai`i

Interpersonal Sensitivity and Loneliness among Chinese Gay Men: A Cross-Sectional Survey

Jiang, Dongdong, et al. "Interpersonal sensitivity and loneliness among Chinese gay men: a cross-sectional survey." International journal of environmental research and public health 16.11 (2019): 2039.


To understand the current status of, and factors related to interpersonal sensitivity (IS) and loneliness among Chinese gay men. The Chinese version SCL-90-R was used to evaluate the status of IS, and the short-form UCLA Loneliness scale (ULS-8) was used for assessing loneliness level. Associations between demographics and IS were examined by chi-square tests and multivariable logistic regress analysis. Linear regression was used to assess the correlations between demographic factors and IS and loneliness. Dating practices and venues were summarized by multiple responses. Gay men who screened positive IS was identified in 36%. Age (OR25–29 = 8.731, 95% CI 2.296 to 33.139), education level (ORcollege = 0.037, 95% CI 0.046 to 0.911), being the only-child at home (ORyes = 4.733, 95% CI 2.293 to 9.733), monthly income (OR>7000 = 0.228, 95% CI 0.055 to 0.944), numbers of current sexual partners (OR1 = 0.285, 95% CI 0.129 to 0.629; OR2 = 0.109 95% CI 0.027 to 0.431) were related to IS. IS was also associated with a higher score of ULS-8 (β = 6.903, p < 0.001). Other variables associated with the score of ULS-8 included: living in a non-nuclear family (β = 0.998, p = 0.020), being a college student (β = −1.556, p = 0.044), having a higher monthly income (β for 3000–5000 yuan = −1.177, p = 0.045; β for over 7000 yuan = −2.207, p = 0.002), having sexual partners (all β < 1, p < 0.001), being the only-child (β = 1.393, p = 0.005). Nearly half of the sample (46.78%) reported that they looked for dating partners on the Internet or dating apps. IS and loneliness are positively correlated. Our study suggests that more humanistic care and social support should be given to Chinese gay men.


This study first clearly reveals that IS and loneliness are positively correlated in Chinese gay men. We also found gay men who aged 25–29 and are the only-child at home could be more likely to be detected IS positive. College degree, monthly income over 7000 yuan and sexual partners are the protective factors of decreasing IS positive rates. The factors lead to loneliness for Chinese gay men are living in a non-nuclear family, being the only-child at home. While being a college student, having a higher monthly income, having sexual partners, opening sexual orientation can reduce the risk of loneliness of Chinese gay men. Results of this paper suggest that we need to be more aware of the Chinese gay men’s mental health, especially their feelings of IS and loneliness. To minimize the level of IS and loneliness, actions should be taken in the care for the Chinese gay men. The government should encourage everyone, especially family members, to give more support and humanistic care to Chinese gay men. The social environment should be more open and inclusive. Psychological counseling centers should be established to provide mental health evaluation. More dating sites should be built to increase the chance to attend group communication.

Read the full study via International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health