Psychological Distress, Substance Use, and Sexual Risk-Taking among Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual College Students
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The present study was designed to contribute to the growing literature of health disparities among lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) college students by investigating psychological distress, substance use, and sexual risk-taking behaviors as it relates to sexual minority status (Study 1), and also by examining how daily stressors influence risk-taking episodes in LGB individuals using ecological momentary assessment (EMA; Study 2). In study 1, participants were asked to complete a survey that included measures of stimulant use and misuse, marijuana use, perceived stress, suicidal ideation, self-worth, impulsivity, and depression. Those who identified as LGB were also given a measure of internalized homophobia. In study 2, LGB individuals screened from study 1 completed a 3-week long EMA study with 2 surveys per day, including measures of LGB-specific discrimination, stress, social influences, substance-specific cravings, substance use, and sexual risk-taking. It was predicted that, in study 1, LGB individuals would report higher levels of psychological distress, sexual risk-taking behaviors, and substance use compared to their heterosexual counterparts, and internalized homophobia would be positively associated with psychological distress. In study 2, we hypothesized that daily stressors, including LGB-specific discrimination, would precede risk-taking behaviors. LGB individuals reported higher levels of psychological distress, marijuana use and sexual-risk taking, and there was a positive association between internalized homophobia and several psychological distress domains in study 1, complimenting the hypothesis. Study 2 found that cravings and social influences were both predictors of drug use.