Alcohol use, behavioral and mental health help-seeking, and treatment satisfaction among sexual minority women

Jillian R. Scheer, Abigail W. Batchelder, Lauren A. Bochicchio, Jeremy D. Kidd, Tonda L. Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Sexual minority women (SMW) report higher rates of heavy episodic drinking (HED) and adverse alcohol-related outcomes, including poor mental health, than heterosexual women. These disparities indicate a greater need for behavioral and mental health treatment for SMW. This study examined associations among alcohol outcomes, behavioral and mental health help-seeking, and treatment satisfaction among SMW by age, sexual identity, race/ethnicity, and income. Methods: Participants included a community sample of 695 SMW (Mage = 40.0, SD = 14.1; 74.1% lesbian, 25.9% bisexual; 37.6% White, 35.8% Black, 23.2% Latinx; 26.3% annual income $14,999 or less). We used bivariate analyses to characterize the sample's demographic characteristics and multivariable logistic regression analyses to examine associations among variables. Results: SMW subgroups based on age, race/ethnicity, and annual income differed in alcohol outcomes (i.e., HED, DSM-IV alcohol dependence, alcohol-related problem consequences, alcohol problem recognition, and motivation to reduce drinking); help-seeking; and treatment satisfaction. SMW who engaged in help-seeking for alcohol-related concerns were more likely than those who did not to meet criteria for DSM-IV alcohol dependence (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 7.13; 95% CI = 2.77; 18.36), endorse alcohol-related problem consequences (aOR = 11.44; 95% CI = 3.88; 33.71), recognize problematic drinking (aOR = 14.56; 95% CI = 3.37; 62.97), and report motivation to reduce drinking (aOR = 5.26; 95% CI = 1.74; 15.88). SMW’s alcohol outcomes did not differ based on their satisfaction with treatment or with providers. Conclusions: This study's findings confirm SMW’s elevated risk for HED and other alcohol-related outcomes and underscore the importance of identity-affirmative and accessible behavioral and mental health treatment for young, Black, and low-income SMW. Clinicians and intervention scientists should develop or enhance existing brief behavioral and mental health treatments for SMW engaging in HED who may not recognize that their drinking is problematic or who are not motivated to reduce drinking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)641-656
Number of pages16
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • alcohol use
  • help-seeking
  • sexual minority women
  • subgroup differences
  • treatment satisfaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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