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Social support and well-being in lesbians ages 55+

Researcher bios and how their research backgrounds relate to this study

Madeline Hannan-Leith is a PhD Candidate in Clinical & Counselling Psychology at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), and is carrying out this research as part of the requirements for completing the Doctor of Philosophy degree. She has experience conducting, collecting, and analyzing quantitative data, as well as previous research and clinical experience working with LGBTQ2S+ and older adult populations. This project builds on her master’s thesis, which revealed the importance of online communities in fostering social support in lesbian and queer young adults. This study is being completed under the supervision of Dr. Margaret Schneider.

Purpose of this research project

The purpose of this study is to examine the structure and function of older lesbians’ social networks and how they may protect against negative health outcomes such as psychological well-being and loneliness. This study also aims to recommend resources that particularly meet the needs of lesbians in comparison to heterosexual women. Additionally, this study explores how the use of Internet and technology-based communication (such as social media, e-mail, and text messaging) impacts these outcomes.

How this research will help LGBT2SQ people and communities

We are hoping that this research will provide knowledge to therapists, clinicians, and senior and/or LGBTQ organizations, and ultimately help to develop clinical and social support resources that are better tailored to the needs of these populations.


This study is open to lesbian and heterosexual women over the age of 55 years, who are fluent in English and who live in Canada or the United States. Any person who meets these criteria is eligible to participate.


There is no compensation for participating, as this study is an unfunded graduate student research project. Such studies commonly do not offer monetary compensation. Based on previous studies of a similar nature, we anticipate that some participants may find it beneficial to reflect on their social networks and mental health in the process of contributing to an important body of scholarly literature.

Mitigation measures

To mitigate any possible distress, participants will be provided with a comprehensive list of mental health and community resources, as well as the contact information for the primary researcher should they choose to follow up for more specific or personalized resources. Additionally, participants have been informed that they may terminate their participation in the study at any point and for any reason. Participants will be directed to the list of community and mental health resources whether they consent, do not consent, complete or withdraw the survey, to ensure that all participants have access to this information.

Promoting the Study

Given the physical distancing measures currently in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, participants are being recruited online through both institutional and personal avenues. Recruitment notices with links to the online survey are being circulated on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Reddit. Additionally, senior and LGBTQ community organizations have been contacted to further circulate recruitment notices.

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