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Research Lacking on Impact of Substance Use on Sexual Minority Women

March 27, 2020

Despite evidence that sexual minority women face an increased risk of substance use and related problems, a newly published research review found there are still significant gaps in the availability of conclusive findings about this group.

Published online this month in PLOS One (Public Library of Science), the Columbia University School of Nursing review found, among other research deficiencies, a lack of long-term studies on drinking and drug use behaviors by sexual minority women and an over-representation of white, well-educated and younger sexual minority women in existing studies.

A theme woven throughout the review was the overall lack of conclusive research regarding sexual minority women and substance use. Among the findings that are known: Younger women have a higher prevalence of substance use; there is some evidence of higher risk among women of color; and a history of victimization (which is more common in sexual minority women) is linked to the presence of negative substance use outcomes.

“Across most studies, sexual minority women report higher rates of alcohol consumption and hazardous drinking than their heterosexual counterparts and, while there are fewer studies looking at drug use, the same patterns appear to be true,” said review lead author Tonda L. Hughes, PhD, associate dean of global health at the nursing school.

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