Illicit and Prescription Drug Misuse among Sexual Minority Women in the United States: A Protocol for a Scoping Review

  • Kelly Gagnon University of Pittsburgh
  • Jessica Frankeberger University of Pittsburgh
  • Stephanie Corey University of Pittsburgh
  • Barbara L. Folb University of Pittsburgh
  • Christina Mair University of Pittsburgh
  • Helena VonVille University of Pittsburgh
  • Robert W. S. Coulter University of Pittsburgh
Keywords: drug use, substance use, lesbian and bisexual, sexual minority women, women who have sex with women



Background: The United States Institute of Medicine (IOM) published reports in 1999 and 2011 identifying drug use as a priority area for sexual minority health research, specifically focused on mechanisms contributing to drug use disparities and the development of tailored interventions. Limited research has prioritized sexual minority women (SMW) with the majority of substance use research among sexual minorities focused on adolescents and men who have sex with men. This scoping review will characterize the research literature related to illicit drug use and prescription drug misuse among SMW and sub-groups within the SMW population. Through this, we will identify: (1) specific substances used; (2) patterns of substance use; (3) risk and protective factors; (4) prevention interventions; and (5) drug treatment programs specific to SMW.

Methods/Design: This review will include studies with empirical data of illicit or prescription drug misuse among sexual minority women. Peer-reviewed quantitative research conducted in the United States and published in English from 2011-Present will be included. We will search Medline, PsycINFO, and Web of Science databases for relevant articles. Two independent reviewers will screen abstracts and relevant full-text studies for eligibility. Data will be extracted from eligible articles and results will be presented in narrative and tabular form as appropriate.

Discussion: This work will identify gaps of knowledge in the research pertaining to illicit or prescription drug misuse among sexual minority women since the 2011 US IOM report. As a result of this work, we will propose directions for future research to address identified gaps.

Study Protocols