Psychology Ph.D. Dissertations


Minority Stress and Substance Use in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer, and Questioning Adults: An Exploration of Outness and Family Attachment

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Advisor

Carolyn Tompsett (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Harold Rosenberg (Advisor)

Third Advisor

Michael Zickar (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Francisco Cabanillas (Other)


The minority stress model (Meyer, 1995, 2003) may explain the higher rates of substance use found in some lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer and questioning (LGBQ) individuals compared to non-LGBQ individuals. Guided by the model and previous research, I examined whether outness about one’s sexual orientation and attachment to family of origin moderated the relationship between minority stress and substance use in LGBQ adults. To evaluate my hypotheses, I recruited two samples of LGBQ participants, one using social media (N=341) and another using a classified ad website (N=180), to answer questions about their drug and alcohol use, level of outness, experiences of minority stress, and attachment to family of origin. As predicted, higher levels of minority stress were significantly, albeit weakly, correlated with higher rates of substance use. However, contrary to expectations, stronger family attachment and higher level of outness were not associated with lower substance use in either sample. Instead, participants who reported higher levels of outness were more likely to report problem drug use. Because reported substance use was considerably lower than I expected in both samples, my study may not have provided a sensitive test of the hypotheses. The results could indicate that rates of substance use by LGBQ individuals are declining, and failed to support the hypothesis that strong family attachment is associated with lower rates of substance use in LGBQ adults.Further research should evaluate how LGBQ people mitigate minority stress other than by self medicating with alcohol and drug use.