Title

Q Chat Space: Assessing the Feasibility and Acceptability of an Internet-Based Support Program for LGBTQ Youth

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

1-1-2022

Journal

Prevention Science

Volume

23

Issue

1

DOI

10.1007/s11121-021-01291-y

Keywords

Gender minority youth; Internet; Intervention; LGBTQ; Mental health; Prevention; Sexual minority youth; Substance use

Abstract

There are few psychosocial support programs specifically designed to meet the unique developmental and health needs of LGBTQ youth. Even when available, many youth face significant barriers to accessing LGBTQ-specific services for fear of being “outed” to parents, peers, and community members. The current study assessed the utility, feasibility, and acceptability of a synchronous, adult-facilitated, chat-based Internet community support program for LGBTQ youth aged 13–19. Chat transcripts were analyzed to examine how LGBTQ youth used the chat-based platform to connect with peers and trusted adults. A separate user satisfaction survey was collected to assess the personal (e.g., sexual orientation, gender identity, age) and contextual (e.g., geography, family environment) characteristics of youth engaging in the platform, their preferred topics of discussion, and their satisfaction with the program focus and facilitators. Qualitative data analysis demonstrated the degree to which LGBTQ youth were comfortable disclosing difficult and challenging situations with family, friends, and in their community and in seeking support from peers and facilitators online. Youth also used the platform to explore facets of sexual and gender identity/expression and self-acceptance. Overall, users were very satisfied with the platform, and participants accurately reflect the program’s desired populations for engagement (e.g., LGBTQ youth of color, LGBTQ youth in the South). Together, findings support the feasibility and acceptability of synchronous, adult-facilitated, chat-based Internet programs to connect and support LGBTQ youth, which encourage future research and innovation in service delivery.

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