DOI: 10.1177/16094069231194204 ISSN:

Alcohol and Tobacco Use Among Lesbian, Bisexual, and Queer Identifying Women: A Longitudinal Qualitative Study Protocol

Ruby Grant, Julie Mooney-Somers, Jen Power, Ruth McNair, Amy Pennay, Jami Jones, Adam Bourne
  • Education

Background: Lesbian, bisexual, and queer (LBQ) women exhibit high rates of alcohol and tobacco use, yet there is limited qualitative research examining why. Previous research has focused on minority stress explanations, linking alcohol and tobacco use to experiences of discrimination. However, other work considers the social contexts and cultural practices associated with alcohol and tobacco consumption. This confirms the need for more in-depth understandings of LBQ women’s lived experiences in a contemporary Australian context. Aims: To address gaps in existing research, this project aims to develop a more nuanced contemporaneous theorising of what alcohol and tobacco mean to LBQ women in Australia. Drawing on feminist and critical drugs studies, this research will examine the complexities of alcohol and tobacco in LBQ women’s lives, including how patterns of use change over time. We will also critically consider how LBQ women understand risk in relation to these substances, including factors leading to harm reduction and help-seeking. Method: We will employ a longitudinal qualitative approach to explore LBQ women’s experiences over time, including three waves of semi-structured interviews and participant photography. We aim to recruit approximately 60 women in Victoria and New South Wales. Interview and visual data will be analysed using a range of narrative and thematic techniques. Conclusion: This study seeks to explore the complexities of individual experiences with alcohol and tobacco use, including pleasure and support-seeking, and to provide a nuanced understanding of the cultural dimensions of use that may change over time. In doing so, we propose a shift from deficit approaches to LBQ women’s substance use towards more meaningful strengths-based engagement with the function of substances for LBQ women. Findings will be significant in their contribution to the current understandings of substance use patterns among LBQ women and the implications for harm reduction and health interventions.

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