Changes in sexual identity and associations with alcohol use and depression among young adult sexual minority women

Brian A. Feinstein*, Isaac C. Rhew, Kimberley A. Hodge, Tonda L. Hughes, Debra Kaysen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objective: Sexual minority women report more problematic alcohol use and depression than heterosexual women. Despite evidence that sexual identity can change over time, most studies treat it as a static construct. As a result, little is known about the extent to which changes in sexual identity influence alcohol use and depression. The current study examined (a) changes in sexual identity over 36 months, (b) the associations between the number of changes in sexual identity and measures of alcohol use (typical weekly alcohol consumption, peak drinking, and alcohol-related consequences) and depression at the final assessment, and (c) baseline sexual identity as a moderator of the associations. Method: The analyses used four waves of data from a national U.S. sample of sexual minority women ages 18–25 (n = 1,057). Results: One third (34%) of participants reported at least one change in sexual identity over the course of the study. The number of changes in sexual identity was positively associated with typical weekly alcohol consumption and depression but was not significantly associated with peak drinking or alcohol-related consequences. None of the associations were moderated by baseline sexual identity. Conclusions: These findings provide additional evidence that sexual identity continues to change over time for a sizeable proportion of young adult sexual minority women and these changes are relevant to their health and well-being.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)623-630
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of studies on alcohol and drugs
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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