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Ruiz and Ornelas Publish New Research on Cigarette Use Among Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Veterans

Posted: 11/17/2023 (CSDE Research)

Dr. Raymond Ruiz, CSDE Affiliate Dr. India Ornelas, and co-authors published their work in Nicotine and Tobacco Research, titled “Associations of Sexual Orientation-Related Minority and Military Stressors with Past-Year Cigarette Use among Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual (LGB) Veterans“. The study was part of Health Systems and Population Health doctoral student, Raymond Ruiz’ dissertation research. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) individuals and Veterans are more likely to report current smoking than the general adult population in the United States. The Minority Stress Model may explain the high prevalence of cigarette smoking among LGB individuals, who experience unique interpersonal (e.g., discrimination) and intrapersonal (e.g., identity concealment) stressors related to their minoritized sexual orientation. This study assessed whether three types of stressors (interpersonal, intrapersonal, and LGB-specific military) were associated with past-year smoking among LGB Veterans.

Veterans were recruited online for a prospective cohort study. Authors conducted secondary data analysis of baseline surveys collected from 2019–2020. The study sample included cisgender, LGB Veterans (n=463). Adjusted nested multivariable logistic regression models were used to estimate the association of each stressor with past-year cigarette smoking. Participants were mostly male (54.0%), non-Hispanic White (82.1%), and at least a college graduate (58.5%). LGB Veterans who were younger, had lower levels of education, income, and healthcare coverage, higher general stressors, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression symptoms were more likely to smoke in the past year (n=98, 21.2%). The adjusted odds of past-year smoking were higher among those who reported higher levels of harassment (aOR=1.13, 95%CI: 1.01–1.26), victimization (aOR=1.13, 95%CI: 1.02–1.43), and family rejection (aOR=1.13, 95%CI: 1.08–1.36). Multiple interpersonal stressors were associated with past-year smoking, highlighting the need to intervene on these stressors. Future interventions should aim to address policies that reduce prejudice against LGB Veterans, while helping those who smoke identify and develop positive coping skills that support cessation. Their findings contribute to the growing body of literature on tobacco use disparities among LGB individuals, particularly LGB Veterans. Results of this analysis provide some evidence for the Minority Stress Model as a conceptual model for understanding and intervening on disparities in smoking prevalence among LGB Veterans.

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