Sexual identity, attraction and behaviour in Britain: The implications of using different dimensions of sexual orientation to estimate the size of sexual minority populations and inform public health interventions

Geary, R. S. et al. (2018) Sexual identity, attraction and behaviour in Britain: The implications of using different dimensions of sexual orientation to estimate the size of sexual minority populations and inform public health interventions. PLoS ONE, 13(1), e0189607. (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0189607) (PMID:29293516) (PMCID:PMC5749676)

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Abstract

Background: Sexual orientation encompasses three dimensions: sexual identity, attraction and behaviour. There is increasing demand for data on sexual orientation to meet equality legislation, monitor potential inequalities and address public health needs. We present estimates of all three dimensions and their overlap in British men and women, and consider the implications for health services, research and the development and evaluation of public health interventions. Methods: Analyses of data from Britain’s third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles, a probability sample survey (15,162 people aged 16–74 years) undertaken in 2010–2012. Findings: A lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) identity was reported by 2·5% of men and 2·4% of women, whilst 6·5% of men and 11·5% of women reported any same-sex attraction and 5·5% of men and 6·1% of women reported ever experience of same-sex sex. This equates to approximately 547,000 men and 546,000 women aged 16–74 in Britain self-identifying as LGB and 1,204,000 men and 1,389,000 women ever having experience of same-sex sex. Of those reporting same-sex sex in the past 5 years, 28% of men and 45% of women identified as heterosexual. Interpretation: There is large variation in the size of sexual minority populations depending on the dimension applied, with implications for the design of epidemiological studies, targeting and monitoring of public health interventions and estimating population-based denominators. There is also substantial diversity on an individual level between identity, behaviour and attraction, adding to the complexity of delivering appropriate services and interventions.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Mitchell, Dr Kirstin
Authors: Geary, R. S., Tanton, C., Erens, B., Clifton, S., Prah, P., Wellings, K., Mitchell, K. R., Datta, J., Gravningen, K., Fuller, E., Johnson, A. M., Sonnenberg, P., and Mercer, C. H.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO Unit
Journal Name:PLoS ONE
Publisher:Public Library of Science
ISSN:1932-6203
ISSN (Online):1932-6203
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 Geary et al.
First Published:First published in PLoS ONE 13(1):e0189607
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
727641SPHSU Core Renewal: Setting and Health Improvement Research ProgrammeKathryn HuntMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/17IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU