263579 Disparities in non-suicidal self-injury by sexual orientation identity: Results from the 2007 Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey (MYRBS)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sari L. Reisner, MA , The Fenway Institute, Fenway Health and Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Kristi E. Gamarel, MA, EdM , Department of Social-Personality Psychology, Graduate Center of the City University of New York, CUNY, New York, NY
Nicholas Perry , The Fenway Institute, Fenway Health, Boston, MA
Johannes Wilson , The Fenway Institute, Fenway Health, Boston, MA
Matthew J. Mimiaga, ScD, MPH , Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard School of Public Health and the Fenway Institute, Fenway Health, Boston, MA
Background: Community-based studies have found lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youth face increased risk for engaging in non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) relative to their same-age heterosexual peers; however, few population studies have investigated these disparities. Methods: Data were from the 2007 Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey, with a representative sample of 2,869 high school students (4.9% LGB; 50.4% female; 26.3% racial/ethnic minority; 52.4% grades 9th/10th). Weighted logistic regression models examined differences in NSSI in the past 12 months (single item screening question) by sexual orientation identity and potential protective supports. All models were adjusted for grade-level, sex, race/ethnicity, bullying, binge drinking, regular drug use, and depression. Results: 47.3% of LGB-identified youth engaged in self-harm in the past 12 months compared to 14.7% of heterosexuals (16.3% overall). LGB youth were at increased risk for self-harm (adjusted odds ratio (aOR)=2.4; 95% CI=1.6, 3.7) compared to heterosexuals. Also associated with an increased odds of NSSI (p<0.01) were lower grade-level, female sex, having been bullied, regular drug use, and depression. School (p<0.05) and family support (p<0.0001) were protective factors. Community engagement and participation in sports teams were not significantly protective. No differences were found in self-harm behaviors by race/ethnicity. Conclusion: Significant disparities exist for NSSI by sexual orientation identity. School and family support offer significant protection that attenuate vulnerability for self-harm. Increased awareness of the high prevalence of self-harm behaviors among LGB youth, as well as the protective quality of social support, could lead to better detection and prevention among at-risk adolescents.

Learning Areas:
Program planning
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
-Compare risk for self-harming behaviors among lesbian, gay and bisexual youth relative to their heterosexual peers - Discuss awareness of high prevalence of self-harm among lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth and address how to best bolster available resiliency factors.

Keywords: Mental Health, Adolescents

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Associate Research Scientist at the Fenway Institute, Fenway Health in Boston MA. Doctoral Student in Social & Psychiatric Epidemiology, Department of Society, Human Development, and Health, Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, MA.
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.