UnLEASH is an online cohort study of substance use among lesbian, bisexual and queer women in Australia.
Associate Professor Julie Mooney-Somers, Sydney Health Ethics, University of Sydney
Dr Nicola Black, Brain and Mind Centre, University of Sydney
Dr Mohamed Hammoud, The Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney
Associate Professor Garrett Prestage, The Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney
Associate Professor Adam Bourne, Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health & Society, La Trobe University
Dr Toby Lea, Centre for Social Research in Health, UNSW Sydney
The prevalence of substance use among lesbian, bisexual and queer (LBQ) women in Australia is significantly higher than in the general community, with some evidence of earlier initiation and more problematic use. Existing sources of evidence on substance use among LBQ women in Australia are cross-sectional, geographically limited, and do not capture risk and protective factors of specific relevance to this population (e.g. minority stress, cultural norms). As such, we know little about the patterns and contexts of LBQ women’s substance use over time, and the factors that influence different patterns of use. A cohort study designed for LBQ women will allow investigation of evidence-based and theory-informed causes of problematic substance use and changes in use over time.
The UnLEASH study aims to establish an online cohort of LBQ women in Australia, to investigate:
- The patterns and contexts of substance use, and harms associated with use, and
- Risk and protective factors for the initiation and cessation of, or changes in substance use over time.
The UnLEASH study will comprise an online cohort of LBQ women recruited from across Australia through advertisements on social media, LGBTI community organisations and online forums. We will recruit both users and non-users of licit and illicit substances. Participant recruitment is expected to run from September-December 2020. Participants will be invited to self-complete one online survey initially, with follow-up survey 3 and 12 months later.
Recruitment is currently in progress.
Identification and understanding of risk and protective factors is essential for the development of evidence-based interventions. Information obtained by this study will be used to devise practical recommendations for health promotion, tobacco, alcohol and other drugs (AOD) agencies and policy makers to design targeted harm reduction programs and prevention messages for LBQ women, and to promote sustainable behaviour change.