Lesbian and Bisexual Veterans Have Increased Risk of Alcohol Misuse

Keren Lehavot, PhD Research Clinical Psychologist VA Puget Sound Health Care System Assistant Professor Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences University of WashingtonMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Keren Lehavot, PhD
Research Clinical Psychologist
VA Puget Sound Health Care System
Assistant Professor
Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
University of Washington

Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Lehavot: Alcohol misuse is a significant public health concern among women living in the U.S. Women who have served in the military are a unique population who report relatively high rates of hazardous drinking, and those who identify as lesbian or bisexual (LB) may be at especially high risk for alcohol misuse. While previous research suggests that lesbian or bisexual veterans report higher rates of alcohol misuse than their heterosexual counterparts, mediators that might explain this disparity have not been identified. To that end, we examined the role of civilian and military traumas and mental health symptoms (i.e., depression, post-traumatic stress disorder) in explaining disparities in alcohol misuse between sexual minority and heterosexual women veterans across the U.S. Women veterans were recruited using the Internet to participate in an online, anonymous, national survey.

Findings indicated that lesbian or bisexual veterans scored significantly higher on an alcohol misuse measure than heterosexual women veterans. LB veterans also reported higher rates of childhood trauma, physical victimization in adulthood both during the military and as a civilian, and mental health symptoms, partly accounting for their higher rates of alcohol misuse.

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