Are Cisgender Women and Transgender and Nonbinary People Drinking More During the COVID-19 Pandemic? It Depends

Cindy B. Veldhuis*, Noah T. Kreski, John Usseglio, Katherine M. Keyes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PURPOSE: This narrative review of research conducted during the first 2 years of the COVID-19 pandemic examines whether alcohol use among cisgender women and transgender and nonbinary people increased during the pandemic. The overarching goal of the review is to inform intervention and prevention efforts to halt the narrowing of gender-related differences in alcohol use. SEARCH METHODS: Eight databases (PubMed, APA PsycInfo, CINAHL, Embase, Scopus, Gender Studies Database, GenderWatch, and Web of Science) were searched for peer-reviewed literature, published between March 2020 and July 2022, that reported gender differences or findings specific to women, transgender or nonbinary people, and alcohol use during the pandemic. The search focused on studies conducted in the United States and excluded qualitative research. SEARCH RESULTS: A total 4,132 records were identified, including 400 duplicates. Of the remaining 3,732 unique records for consideration in the review, 51 were ultimately included. Overall, most studies found increases in alcohol use as well as gender differences in alcohol use, with cisgender women experiencing the most serious consequences. The findings for transgender and nonbinary people were equivocal due to the dearth of research and because many studies aggregated across gender. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: Alcohol use by cisgender women seems to have increased during the pandemic; however, sizable limitations need to be considered, particularly the low number of studies on alcohol use during the pandemic that analyzed gender differences. This is of concern as gender differences in alcohol use had been narrowing before the pandemic; and this review suggests the gap has narrowed even further. Cisgender women and transgender and nonbinary people have experienced sizable stressors during the pandemic; thus, understanding the health and health behavior impacts of these stressors is critical to preventing the worsening of problematic alcohol use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number05
JournalAlcohol Research: Current Reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 28 2023


  • COVID-19
  • alcohol
  • cisgender women
  • college students
  • culturally responsive treatment
  • pandemic
  • sexual and gender minorities
  • transgender persons and nonbinary populations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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