Latent class analysis of sexual health markers among men and women participating in a British probability sample survey

Parkes, A. , Waltenburger, M., Mercer, C., Johnson, A., Wellings, K. and Mitchell, K. (2020) Latent class analysis of sexual health markers among men and women participating in a British probability sample survey. BMC Public Health, 20, 14. (doi: 10.1186/s12889-019-7959-7) (PMID:31914970) (PMCID:PMC6950902)

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Background: Despite known associations between different aspects of sexual health, it is not clear how patterning of adverse sexual health varies across the general population. A better understanding should contribute towards more effective problem identification, prevention and treatment. We sought to identify different clusters of sexual health markers in a general population, along with their socio-demographic, health and lifestyle correlates. Methods: Data came from men (N = 5113) and women (N = 7019) aged 16–74 who reported partnered sexual activity in the past year in Britain’s third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles, undertaken in 2010–2012. Latent class analysis used 18 self-reported variables relating to adverse sexual health outcomes (STI and unplanned pregnancy, non-volitional sex, and sexual function problems). Correlates included socio-demographics, early debut, alcohol/drug use, depression, and satisfaction/distress with sex life. Results: Four classes were found for men (labelled Good Sexual Health 83%, Wary Risk-takers 4%, Unwary Risk-takers 4%, Sexual Function Problems 9%); six for women (Good Sexual Health 52%, Wary Risk-takers 2%, Unwary Risk-takers 7%, Low Interest 29%, Sexual Function Problems 7%, Highly Vulnerable 2%). Regardless of gender, Unwary Risk-takers reported lower STI/HIV risk perception and more condomless sex than Wary Risk-takers, but both were more likely to report STI diagnosis than Good Sexual Health classes. Highly Vulnerable women reported abortion, STIs and functional problems, and more sexual coercion than other women. Distinct socio-demographic profiles differentiated higher-risk classes from Good Sexual Health classes, with depression, alcohol/drug use, and early sexual debut widely-shared correlates of higher-risk classes. Females in higher-risk classes, and men with functional problems, evaluated their sex lives more negatively than those with Good Sexual Health. Conclusions: A greater prevalence and diversity of poor sexual health appears to exist among women than men in Britain, with more consistent effects on women’s subjective sexual well-being. Shared health and lifestyle characteristics of higher-risk groups suggest widespread benefits of upstream interventions. Several groups could benefit from tailored interventions: men and women who underestimate their STI/HIV risk exposure, women distressed by low interest in sex, and women experiencing multiple adverse outcomes. Distinctive socio-demographic profiles should assist with identification and targeting.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Parkes, Dr Alison and Mitchell, Professor Kirstin
Authors: Parkes, A., Waltenburger, M., Mercer, C., Johnson, A., Wellings, K., and Mitchell, K.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:BMC Public Health
Publisher:BioMed Central
ISSN (Online):1471-2458
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 The Authors
First Published:First published in BMC Public Health 20: 14
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License
Data DOI:10.5255/UKDA-SN-7799-1

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
727631SPHSU Core Renewal: Relationships & Health Improvement Research ProgrammeLisa McDaidMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/11IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU
Chief Scientist Office (CSO)SPHSU11