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Have Mischievous Responders Misidentified Sexual Minority Youth Disparities in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health?

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Abstract

The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) has been instrumental in identifying sexual minority youth health disparities. Recent commentary suggested that some Wave 1 youth responders, especially males, intentionally mismarked same-sex attraction and, as a result, published reports of health disparities from these data may be suspect. We use two recently developed approaches to identify “jokesters” and mischievous responding and apply them to the Add Health data. First, we show that Wave 1 same-sex attracted youth, including those who later reported completely heterosexual identities in adulthood, were no more likely than different-sex attracted youth and consistently heterosexual participants to be “jokesters.” Second, after accounting for mischievous responses, we replicated six previously established disparities: depressive symptoms, suicidal ideation and behaviors, alcohol use, cocaine use, parental satisfaction, and school connectedness. Accounting for mischievousness resulted in the elimination of one observed disparity between heterosexual and sexual minority youth: suicidal ideation for males who reported romantic attraction to both sexes. Results also showed that accounting for mischievous responding may underestimate disparities for sexual minority youth, particularly females. Overall, results presented here support previous studies that identified health disparities among sexual minority youth using these data.

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Acknowledgements

This research was supported by F32-AA023138, Sexual Minority Alcohol Use: Risk and Protective Factors, awarded to Fish in the Population Research Center at The University of Texas at Austin by National Institutes on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and by The National Science Foundation Grant No. SMA1401836. Additional support for Russell came from the Fitch Nesbitt Endowment at the Frances McClelland Institute for Children, Youth and Families, Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences, University of Arizona, and the Priscilla Pond Flawn Endowment at the University of Texas at Austin. This research was also supported by grant R24HD042849, awarded to the Population Research Center at The University of Texas at Austin by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. This research used data from Add Health, a program project directed by Kathleen Mullan Harris and designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and funded by Grant P01-HD31921 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with cooperative funding from 23 other federal agencies and foundations. Special acknowledgment is due Ronald R. Rindfuss and Barbara Entwisle for assistance in the original design. Information on how to obtain the Add Health data files is available on the Add Health Web site (http://www.cpc.unc.edu/addhealth). No direct support was received from Grant P01-HD31921 for this analysis.

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Fish, J.N., Russell, S.T. Have Mischievous Responders Misidentified Sexual Minority Youth Disparities in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health?. Arch Sex Behav 47, 1053–1067 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-017-0993-6

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