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Patterns of Alcohol Use and Consequences Among Empirically Derived Sexual Minority Subgroups

Amelia E. Talley, Kenneth J. Sher, Douglas Steinley, Phillip K. Wood, Andrew K. Littlefield

Objective: The current study develops an empirically determined classification of sexual orientation developmental patterns based on participants' annual reports of self-identifications, sexual attractions, and sexual behaviors during the first 4 years of college. A secondary aim of the current work was to examine trajectories of alcohol involvement among identified subgroups. Method: Data were drawn from a subsample of a longitudinal study of incoming first-time college students at a large, public university (n = 2,068). Longitudinal latent class analysis was used to classify sexual minority participants into empirically derived subgroups based on three self-reported facets of sexual orientation. Multivariate repeated-measures analyses were conducted to examine how trajectories of alcohol involvement varied by sexual orientation class membership. Results: Four unique subclasses of sexual orientation developmental patterns were identified for males and females: one consistently exclusively heterosexual group and three sexual minority groups. Despite generally similar alcohol use patterns among subclasses, certain sexual minority subgroups reported elevated levels of alcohol-related negative consequences and maladaptive motivations for use throughout college compared with their exclusively heterosexual counterparts. Conclusions: Elevations in coping and conformity motivations for alcohol use were seen among those subgroups that also evidenced heightened negative alcohol-related consequences. Implications and limitations of the current work are discussed. (J. Stud. Alcohol Drugs, 73, 290302, 2012)