Future directions in research on sexual minority adolescent mental, behavioral, and sexual health

J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol. 2015;44(1):204-19. doi: 10.1080/15374416.2014.982756.


This article describes current knowledge on sexual, mental, and behavioral health of sexual minority (SM) youth and identifies gaps that would benefit from future research. A translational sciences framework is used to conceptualize the article, discussing findings and gaps along the spectrum from basic research on prevalence and mechanisms, to intervention development and testing, to implementation. Relative to adults, there has been much less research on adolescents and very few studies that had longitudinal follow-up beyond 1 year. Due to historical changes in the social acceptance of the SM community, new cohorts are needed to represent contemporary life experiences and associated health consequences. Important theoretical developments have occurred in conceptualizing mechanisms that drive SM health disparities and mechanistic research is underway, including studies that identify individual and structural risk/protective factors. Research opportunities exist in the utilization of sibling-comparison designs, inclusion of parents, and studying romantic relationships. Methodological innovation is needed in sampling SM populations. There has been less intervention research and approaches should consider natural resiliencies, life-course frameworks, prevention science, multiple levels of influence, and the importance of implementation. Regulatory obstacles are created when ethics boards elect to require parental permission and ethics research is needed. There has been inconsistent inclusion of SM populations in the definition of "health disparity population," which impacts funding and training opportunities. There are incredible opportunities for scholars to make substantial and foundational contributions to help address the health of SM youth, and new funding opportunities to do so.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Forecasting*
  • Humans
  • Mental Health
  • Minority Groups / psychology*
  • Reproductive Health
  • Research / trends*
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*