The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

5168.0: Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - 3:15 PM

Abstract #62467

Substance use and mental health issues of young lesbian and bisexual women compared with heterosexual women in a population-based Australian study

Ruth P. McNair, MBBS, FRACGP1, Anne Kavanagh, MBBS, PhD2, Lynne Hillier, PhD2, and Richard de Visser, PhD2. (1) Department of General Practice, University of Melbourne, 200 Berkeley St, Carlton, Melbourne, Australia, 61 3 8344 6077,, (2) Australian Research Centre in Sex Health and Society, La Trobe University, 215 Franklin St, Melbourne, Australia

In the first study of its kind in Australia, we compare non-exclusively heterosexual women with exclusively heterosexual young women from a population-based study regarding their mental health status and substance use. Methodology: The data reported in this paper are drawn from the Women’s Health Australia (WHA) longitudinal study, involving almost 40 000 women who are being surveyed every 3 years for 20 years. Data are drawn from the second survey of 9,683 young women within the WHA, who were aged 22-27 years when contacted in 2000. The sample for this paper consists of the 9,260 women who provided information about their sexual attraction. Attraction to both men and women was reported by 7.4% of women, and 1.0% identified as mainly or exclusively attracted to women. All non-exclusively heterosexual women were analysed and compared with the total group. Findings: This study demonstrates convincingly that young Australian lesbian and bisexual women are at higher risk of ever using licit and illicit drugs, including drugs of injection. Higher levels of depression and anxiety were recorded, with over twice as many women reporting that life is not worth living. Associated risk factors for reduced mental health included a history of physical abuse, emotional abuse and harassment, reduced social support and higher stress levels. The findings generate pertinent issues for health care provider training, which to date in Australia rarely includes lesbian or bisexual content.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Mental Health, Drug Use

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Substance Use and Substance Use Treatment Issues Among LGBT individuals

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA