Drinking Patterns and Outcomes of Alcohol Use by LGBT Students at a Minority-Serving University

Tuesday, 10 November 2015: 8:50 AM

Sandra "Sande" Gracia Jones, PhD, MSN, MEd, ARNP, ACRN, ACNS-BC, FAAN1
Beatriz Valdes, MSN, MBA, RN2
Eric Fenkl, PhD, RN, CNE1
(1)Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Florida International University, Miami, FL, USA
(2)Simulation Center, School of Nursing and Health Studies, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL, USA

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE: The Institute of Medicine report (2011) on the health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) persons noted that sexual minority youth may have higher rates of substance use than heterosexual youth, and that LGBT youth may have an elevated risk for attempted suicide and depression. Substance use has been linked to HIV infection because both casual and chronic substance users are more likely to engage in high-risk behaviors, such as sex without a condom, when they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol (CDC, 2013). Unsafe sexual practices among college students are often associated with the use of alcohol or other drugs, placing them at risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The purpose of this study was to explore drinking patterns and negative outcomes of drinking by LGBT college students. This study was part of a larger study funded through the HIV and Substance Abuse Prevention initiative for Minority Serving Institutions, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

METHODS: A convenience sample of male and female LGBT students was used. After IRB approval was received, participants were recruited from two sites: 1) on campus at a minority-serving South Florida university from March - September 2014 and 2) from community venues on Miami Beach during Spring Break March-April 2014. Inclusion criteria for participants included: self-identity as LGBT, ages 18-24, enrolled as a college student, and able to speak and read English. After giving verbal consent, the participants completed a self-administered survey. The instrument used was the Core Alcohol and Drug Survey for Two- and Four-Year Universities (University of Southern Illinois, 2000). A variety of strategies were used to recruit participants.

RESULTS: The sample included 213 self-identified LGBT participants, ages 18-24, of which 114 (53.5%) were female, 91 (42.7%) were male, 4 (1.9%) were transgender female, 3 (1.4%) were transgender male, and 1 (0.5%) did not report their gender. In regards to drinking patterns, thirty five percent (n = 74) of the participants reported that over the last 2 weeks they had one to ten occasions of drinking 5 or more alcoholic beverages at a sitting, i.e., binge drinking. Sixty five percent (n = 138) of the participants reported that they consumed 1 to 69 alcoholic beverages a week. In terms of outcomes, the LGBT students reported that they experienced the following related to alcohol or drug use in the last year. In terms of academic performance, one-third of the students (n = 50; 33%) had performed poorly on a test or important project, and over one-fourth of the students (n = 58; 27%) had missed a class. There were also negative outcomes related to physical health. Over a third of the students had been nauseated or vomited (n = 79; 37%) and had suffered a hangover (n = 94; 44%), and one-fourth of the students (n = 54; 25%) had suffered a memory loss. Almost 20% (n = 41; 19%) of the students had driven a car while under the influence, and 27% (n = 58; 27%) had done something they later regretted. In terms of mental health and outcomes of use of alcohol and other substances, some students had seriously thought about suicide (n = 22; 10%) and some students had seriously tried to commit suicide (n = 17; 8%).

CONCLUSION/IMPLICATIONS: Findings of this study will add to the knowledge base of risk behaviors for LGBT college students. Information derived from this study will be used to develop a campus-based HIV and substance abuse prevention program for LGBT students.