Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Category

Social Sciences/Humanities

Abstract/Artist Statement

Health disparities researchers have identified elevated rates of difficulties among gender and sexual minorities (GSM). In addition to a higher rate of general mental health issues, there is also a higher prevalence rate of substance misuse among GSM individuals when compared to the general population. Specific issues, such as stigma and oppression faced by GSMs, might have a direct linkage with the higher prevalence rate and might also impact treatment outcomes. To understand the specific factors that lead to substance misuse, as well as to understand the unique patterns of treatment-seeking and adherence among GSM clients, the development and dissemination of GSM-specific treatment programs are needed. In 2007, Cochran, Peavy, and Robohm conducted a study of treatment programs who indicated that they provided specialized services for gay and lesbian clients; however, phone calls to these agencies revealed that over 70% of these agencies actually did not provide services that were different from the agencies' general services. Given the progress and development in the last decade regarding awareness of GSM rights, the proposed study aims to gain a renewed understanding of the current state of GSM-specific treatment using a similar methodology. Additionally, GSM clients’ initial contact experience with treatment agencies might influence their willingness for future treatment entry and adherence. Therefore, the experience of the initial contact is also examined in the current study. This study provides a snapshot summary regarding specialized substance treatment programs available to GSM individuals in the United States in 2020. Our goal is to understand if there have been any improvements and updates of actual specialized programs available to gender and sexual minority clients from when the last, most similar study was conducted, approximately 17 years ago. This study also focuses on understanding the initial-contact experience when a potential GSM client initiates treatment seeking. By asking questions regarding the specificity and scope of services treatment agencies defined as a specialized program, the current study will hopefully contribute to the collective effort of operationalizing and standardizing the term “LGBTQ-specific treatment."

Mentor Name

Bryan Cochran

Personal Statement

Dear Members of the GradCon Committee: It is with great enthusiasm that I am applying to be considered for the Best of GradCon reward. I am a third-year doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology program at the University of Montana. My submitted project aims to understand the unique treatment-seeking patterns and adherence among gender and sexual minority clients within substance misuse treatment services. I believe it will provide insights into how agencies and treatment providers can improve substance abuse treatment for GSM clients by raising awareness about the potential limitations of the currently available treatment programs. Even given widespread knowledge of health disparities and increased policy mandates, a continually growing body of literature demonstrates the lack of access to quality health care among gender and sexual minorities (GSM). To me, the issues lie within the gaps in knowledge and implementation. Many interventions were designed in good faith but fell short in recognizing and considering specific barriers faced by marginalized communities. My ultimate career goal is to study and implement interventions that target behavioral healthcare disparities by improving access to culturally sensitive, and quality care to LGBTQIA+ identified individuals and communities. For this research project, I advocate for understanding substance use in the context of minority/marginalized experiences. The current study's primary goal is to better understand 1) the scope and prevalence of LGBTQ+ specific substance treatment services offered currently and 2) the nature of potential GSM clients' experiences when they initiate contact with treatment agencies. Our team has contacted all 2,354 substance treatment agencies who reported to have LGBTQ+ specialized service to achieve these goals. Through the brief phone-interaction, our team assessed the availability, scope, and context of the specialized service advertised by each treatment agency. After each phone interaction, our research assistant rated their perception of the overall experience interacting with that treatment agency using a perceived helpfulness scale. The ultimate aim of the current study is to highlight areas for improvement in clinical practice and care for GSM clients in substance misuse treatment. The study results will also provide feedback on how to increase treatment accessibility for this particular population and inform treatment agencies and our health care system on how to improve the likelihood of treatment linkage for GSM clients and patients, thus potentially decreasing health disparities. I am thrilled at the possibility of being considered for the Best of GradCon, and I would love the opportunity to share my visions and values further. I appreciate your consideration and look forward to hearing from you.

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2020 LGBTQ+ Specific Substance Use Services Survey: A Study on the Availability and Perceived Helpfulness of Treatment Programs

Health disparities researchers have identified elevated rates of difficulties among gender and sexual minorities (GSM). In addition to a higher rate of general mental health issues, there is also a higher prevalence rate of substance misuse among GSM individuals when compared to the general population. Specific issues, such as stigma and oppression faced by GSMs, might have a direct linkage with the higher prevalence rate and might also impact treatment outcomes. To understand the specific factors that lead to substance misuse, as well as to understand the unique patterns of treatment-seeking and adherence among GSM clients, the development and dissemination of GSM-specific treatment programs are needed. In 2007, Cochran, Peavy, and Robohm conducted a study of treatment programs who indicated that they provided specialized services for gay and lesbian clients; however, phone calls to these agencies revealed that over 70% of these agencies actually did not provide services that were different from the agencies' general services. Given the progress and development in the last decade regarding awareness of GSM rights, the proposed study aims to gain a renewed understanding of the current state of GSM-specific treatment using a similar methodology. Additionally, GSM clients’ initial contact experience with treatment agencies might influence their willingness for future treatment entry and adherence. Therefore, the experience of the initial contact is also examined in the current study. This study provides a snapshot summary regarding specialized substance treatment programs available to GSM individuals in the United States in 2020. Our goal is to understand if there have been any improvements and updates of actual specialized programs available to gender and sexual minority clients from when the last, most similar study was conducted, approximately 17 years ago. This study also focuses on understanding the initial-contact experience when a potential GSM client initiates treatment seeking. By asking questions regarding the specificity and scope of services treatment agencies defined as a specialized program, the current study will hopefully contribute to the collective effort of operationalizing and standardizing the term “LGBTQ-specific treatment."