260131 Predicting Alcohol Misuse Among Sexual Minority Youth: Investigating the Role of Sensation Seeking

Wednesday, October 31, 2012 : 12:50 PM - 1:10 PM

Nicholas Livingston, BS , Department of Psychology, University of Montana, Missoula, MT
Nicholas Heck, MA , Psychology, The University of Montana, Missoula, MT
Annesa Flentje, Ph.D. , Department of Psychiatry, The University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Brandon Stewart , Department of Psychology, University of Montana, Missoula, MT
Niccole Dusek , Department of Psychology, University of Montana, Missoula, MT
Chris Brennen , Department of Psychology, University of Montana, Missoula, MT
Beryl Clark , Department of Psychology, University of Montana, Missoula, MT
Bryan Cochran, PhD , Department of Psychology, University of Montana, Missoula, MT
Objectives: Current theories for explaining why the LGBT population evidences increased alcohol misuse have yet to incorporate personality characteristics. This study investigates the unique influence of sensation seeking when predicting alcohol use outcomes among sexual minority youth.

Methods: A total of 384 sexual minority high school students ages 16-19 (M = 16.75, SD = 0.94) were recruited nationally from various LGBT organizations and social networking websites. Participants completed an online survey assessing variables related to anxiety, school victimization, parental acceptance, child abuse, alcohol use, and sensation seeking. Multiple regressions were calculated to predict alcohol use outcomes; age and gender were entered in at block one, known minority risk factors (e.g., parental acceptance, childhood abuse, school victimization, and anxiety) at block two, and sensation seeking at block three.

Results: The overall models predicting the outcome variables were all statistically significant (p < .001; adjR2 range .104 .409). At block three, sensation seeking was a significant predictor of consumption outcomes (e.g., weekly drinking [ΔR2 = .016, p = .009], pre-gaming/pre-partying [ΔR2 = .019, p = .005], and AUDIT consumption scores [ΔR2 = .012, p = .015]), but not of current alcohol problems (e.g., AUDIT total [ΔR2 = .004, p > .05] or dependence scores [ΔR2 = .000, p > .05]).

Conclusions: After controlling for important minority risk factors, sensation seeking was a significant predictor of alcohol consumption-related outcomes in this sample of sexual minority youth. Implications exist for incorporating personality research into theories explaining the development of substance misuse among sexual minority populations.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
-List common sexual minority stressors. -Discuss the role of these stressors in the development of alcohol misuse outcomes among sexual minority youth. -Demonstrate that sensation seeking (a construct of personality) is a significant predictor of alcohol misuse after controlling for sexual minority stressors. -Identify personality research as a new area of inquiry that has yet to be considered in the context of sexual minority health, especially with regard to alcohol misuse.

Keywords: Alcohol Use, Adolescent Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was the principal investigator on a project investigating the role of personality in self-regulation. I have assisted with multiple projects concerning sexual minorities and health risk behaviors (e.g., substance misuse, risky sexual behavior, etc.). Further, my clinical experience has prepared me to work in the realm of substance misuse research. My current research interests include sexual minority health, substance misuse, and personality variables serving as risk and protective factors leading to substance misuse.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.