Original Paper

The Journal of Primary Prevention

, Volume 31, Issue 5, pp 261-272

First online:

Group Differences in Risk Across Three Domains Using an Expanded Measure of Sexual Orientation

  • Penny S. LoosierAffiliated withDivision of STD Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Email author 
  • , Patricia J. DittusAffiliated withDivision of STD Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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The purpose of this study was to highlight associations between sexual orientation and risk outcomes in late adolescence and early adulthood using an expanded measure of sexual orientation. Recent data indicate higher levels of risk behavior in a newly identified population, mostly heterosexuals, as compared to heterosexuals. Comparisons among groups using an expanded measure of sexual orientation such as this, however, often do not include all possible groups or may restrict comparisons between groups. Data were derived from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health); participants identified as heterosexual, mostly heterosexual, bisexual, mostly gay, or gay. Main risk outcomes were parental mistreatment, home displacement, thoughts of suicide, depressive symptoms, frequency of drinking, and delinquency. A priori planned comparisons examined differences between: (a) heterosexual vs. mostly heterosexual, (b) gay vs. mostly gay, (c) mostly heterosexual vs. bisexual, (d) mostly gay vs. bisexual, (e) mostly heterosexual vs. mostly gay, (f) heterosexual vs. gay, (g) heterosexual vs. bisexual, and (h) gay vs. bisexual. Mostly heterosexual youth were at significantly greater risk than heterosexual youth on all outcomes but did not differ from bisexual or mostly gay youth. Heterosexuals were at lower risk as compared to mostly heterosexuals and bisexuals. This study provides further evidence of differential risk associations for sexual minorities.


Adolescence Sexual minority Heterosexual Homosexual Bisexual Internalizing behaviors Externalizing behaviors