Study to Examine Alcohol Problems from Sexual Identity Perspective

By Kathleen Weaver

Release Date: December 7, 2006

BUFFALO , N.Y. -- The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has awarded a $579,325 grant to Amy Hequembourg, Ph.D., of the University at Buffalo's Research Institute on Addictions (RIA) to study the role of gender and sexual identity in alcohol use and victimization.

The Mentored Research Scientist Development Award will support five years of both research and professional development.

"The research component, known as the COPE Study, will include recruitment of a total of 400 gay men, lesbians, and bisexual men and women (GLBs) to discuss alcohol use and interpersonal violence, including childhood sexual abuse, sexual assault, and intimate partner violence" Hequembourg explained. COPE stands for Conversations on Personal Experiences.

There are a range of risk and protective factors associated with alcohol use and victimization among individuals who face stress associated with social stigmatization of their sexual identities, according to Hequembourg. She will investigate social support systems, involvement in GLB community activities, and relationships with family, friends, and coworkers.

"Understanding risk and protective factors for this population could greatly enhance the effectiveness of alcohol and victimization prevention, early intervention and treatment efforts," Hequembourg said.

The professional development component of the award includes training in advanced statistical analysis and methods for combining qualitative and quantitative approaches in research. Hequembourg's mentors include RIA Senior Research Scientists Kathleen A. Parks, Ph.D.; R. Lorraine Collins, Ph.D., who is also a research professor in UB's Department of Psychology; and Michael R. Frone, Ph.D., who is also a research associate professor in UB's Department of Psychology. They will provide collective expertise in addictions research, victimization studies, and advanced statistical analyses.

Hequembourg recently completed the NIAAA-funded postdoctoral associate program for research training on alcohol etiology and treatment at RIA.

The Research Institute on Addictions, a leader in the study of addictions since 1970 and a research center of excellence at the University at Buffalo since 1999, is located on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the State University of New York.