Ecological Momentary Assessment of Daily Discrimination Experiences and Nicotine, Alcohol, and Drug Use Among Sexual and Gender Minority Individuals

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Abstract

Objective: Sexual and gender minority (SGM) individuals experience elevated rates of minority stress, which has been linked to higher rates of nicotine and substance use. Research on this disparity to date is largely predicated on methodology that is insensitive to within day SGM-based discrimination experiences, or their relation to momentary nicotine and substance use risk. We address this knowledge gap in the current study using ecological momentary assessment (EMA). Method: Fifty SGM individuals, between 18 and 45 years of age, were recruited from an inland northwestern university, regardless of their nicotine or substance use history, and invited to participate in an EMA study. Each were prompted to provide data, six times daily (between 10:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m.) for 14 days, regarding SGM-based discrimination, other forms of mistreatment, and nicotine, drug, and alcohol use since their last prompt. Results: Discrimination experiences that occurred since individuals’ last measurement prompt were associated with greater odds of nicotine and substance use during the same measurement window. Substance use was also more likely to occur in relation to discrimination reported two measurements prior in lagged models. Relative to other forms of mistreatment, discrimination effects were consistently larger in magnitude and became stronger throughout the day/evening. Conclusion: This study adds to existing minority stress research by highlighting the both immediate and delayed correlates of daily SGM-based discrimination experiences. These results also contribute to our understanding of daily stress processes and provide insight into ways we might mitigate these effects using real-time monitoring and intervention technology.

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