Volume 73, Issue 3 p. 545-562
Original Article

Social Factors Linking Stigma-Related Stress with Alcohol Use among Lesbians

Robin J. Lewis

Corresponding Author

Robin J. Lewis

Virginia Consortium Program in Clinical Psychology, Old Dominion University

Correspondence regarding this article should be addressed to Robin J. Lewis, Department of Psychology, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA 23529-0267. Tel: (757) 683-4210 [e-mail: [email protected]].Search for more papers by this author
Barbara A. Winstead

Barbara A. Winstead

Virginia Consortium Program in Clinical Psychology, Old Dominion University

Search for more papers by this author
Cathy Lau-Barraco

Cathy Lau-Barraco

Virginia Consortium Program in Clinical Psychology, Old Dominion University

Search for more papers by this author
Tyler B. Mason

Tyler B. Mason

Old Dominion University

Search for more papers by this author
First published: 21 September 2017
Citations: 26

Tyler B. Mason is now at the Neuropsychiatric Research Institute, 700 First Ave, Fargo, ND 58103.

Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health under award number R15AA020424 to Robin Lewis (PI). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. The Harris Interactive Service Bureau (HISB) was responsible solely for the data collection in this study. The authors were responsible for the study's design, data analysis, reporting the data, and data interpretation.

This article is part of the Special Issue “Translating Stigma and Intergroup Relations Research to Explain and Reduce Sexual and Gender Minority Health Disparities,” Stacey L. Williams, Abbey K. Mann, and David M. Frost (Special Issue Editors). For a full listing of Special Issue papers, see: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/josi.2017.73.issue-3/issuetoc.

Abstract

A conceptual model linking stigma-related stress and lesbian women's alcohol use and related problems via social factors (i.e., social constraints and social isolation), depressive symptoms, and negative reinforcement drinking motives (i.e., coping and conformity) was tested. Self-identified lesbian women (N = 1,048), age 18–35 years in the United States completed an online survey of discrimination, stigma consciousness, social isolation, social constraints, depressive symptoms, drinking motives, alcohol use, and related problems. The hypothesized path model showed excellent model fit. The predicted pathway of stigma-related stressors to alcohol outcomes via social factors, depressive symptoms, and coping/conformity motives was largely supported. Results highlight the importance of social factors in linking stigma-related stress to alcohol use and related problems among lesbians. Understanding the underlying social mechanisms connecting stigma to negative health outcomes may help inform intervention efforts to reduce alcohol use and related problems among lesbians and associated health disparities.