Toronto: Chronic stress caused by difficult social situations, including discrimination, victimisation and homophobia, leads to higher rates of binge drinking among lesbian and gay adolescents compared to their heterosexual peers, a study showed.
Gay and lesbian teens reported greater psychological distress when they experienced violence or victimisation, if they had internalised homophobia, and if they had made their sexual orientation known.
The findings were consistent with minority stress theory that says chronic stress due to discrimination, rejection, harassment, concealment of sexual orientation, internalised homophobia (negative attitudes toward homosexuality) and other negative experiences leads to poor health.
Previous studies had shown that lesbian and gay people experience higher rates of physical and mental health problems.
For the study, researchers from the Saban Research Institute of Children's Hospital in Los Angeles analysed responses from 1,232 youths aged 12-18 years who took part in an online survey.
Internalised homophobia was a significant predictor of binge drinking, while experiencing violence or victimisation was marginally associated with binge drinking, the study showed.
"Studies like this one can potentially lead to tailored treatment approaches based on the unique experiences of lesbian and gay adolescents," said lead author Sheree Schrager.
Schrager presented the study May 3 at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in Vancouver, Canada.