Associations of Health-Risk Behaviors and Health Cognition With Sexual Orientation Among Adolescents in School: Analysis of Pooled Data From Korean Nationwide Survey From 2008 to 2012

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Homosexual adolescents may face significant health disparities. We examined health-risk behaviors and health cognition related to homosexual behavior in a representative sample of adolescents.

Data were obtained from 129,900 adolescents between 2008 and 2012 over 5 cycles of the Korean Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a national survey of students in grades 7 to 12. Various health-risk behaviors and aspects of health cognition were compared between homosexual and heterosexual adolescents and analyzed with multiple logistic regression models.

Compared with heterosexual adolescents (n = 127,594), homosexual adolescents (n = 2306) were more likely to engage in various health-risk behaviors and to have poor health cognition. In multiple logistic regression analysis, not living with parents, alcohol experience (adjusted odds ratio, 1.50; 95% confidence interval, 1.26–1.78 for males and 1.66; 1.33–2.07 for females), smoking experience (1.80; 1.54–2.10 for males and 3.15; 2.61–3.79 for females), and drug experience (3.65; 2.81–4.80 for males and 3.23; 2.35–4.46 for females) were associated with homosexual behavior. Homosexual adolescents were more likely to use adult internet content (2.82; 2.27–3.50 for males and 7.42; 4.19–13.15 for females), and to be depressed (1.21; 1.03–1.43 for males and 1.32; 1.06–1.64 for females). In addition, suicide ideation (1.51; 1.26–1.81 for males and 1.47; 1.16–1.86 for females) and attempts (1.67; 1.37–2.05 for males and 1.65; 1.34–2.03 for females) were significantly more prevalent among homosexual adolescents.

Homosexual adolescents report disparities in various aspects of health-risk behavior and health cognition, including use of multiple substances, adult internet content and inappropriate weight loss methods, suicide ideation and attempts, and depressive mood. These factors should be addressed relevantly to develop specific interventions regarding sexual minorities.

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