Substance Use and Mental Health Disparities among Sexual Minority Girls: Results from the Pittsburgh Girls Study

Michael P. Marshal, Gina Sucato, Stephanie D. Stepp, Alison Hipwell, Helen A. Smith, Mark S. Friedman, Tammy Chung, Nina Markovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Purpose: To examine substance use and mental health disparities between sexual minority girls and heterosexual girls. Methods: Data from the Pittsburgh Girls Study were analyzed. All girls were 17 years old. Girls were included if they were not missing self-reported sexual orientation and mental health data (N = 527). Thirty-one girls (6%) endorsed same-sex romantic orientation/identity or current same-sex attraction. Bivariate analyses were conducted to test group differences in the prevalence of substance use and suicidal behavior, and group differences in depression, anxiety, borderline personality disorder (BPD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), and conduct disorder (CD) symptoms. Results: Compared with heterosexual girls, sexual minority girls reported higher past-year rates of cigarette, alcohol, and heavy alcohol use, higher rates of suicidal ideation and self-harm, and higher average depression, anxiety, BPD, ODD, and CD symptoms. Conclusions: Sexual minority girls are an underrepresented group in the health disparities literature, and compared with heterosexual girls, they are at higher risk for mental health problems, most likely because of minority stress experiences such as discrimination and victimization. The disparities found in this report highlight the importance of discussing sexual orientation as part of a comprehensive preventive care visit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-18
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


  • Adolescent mental health disparities
  • Adolescent substance use
  • LGBT health
  • Sexual minority girls


Dive into the research topics of 'Substance Use and Mental Health Disparities among Sexual Minority Girls: Results from the Pittsburgh Girls Study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this