A comparison of lesbian, bisexual, and heterosexual female college undergraduate students on selected reproductive health screenings and sexual behaviors

Dianne L Kerr, Kele Ding, Amy J Thompson
Women's Health Issues: Official Publication of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health 2013, 23 (6): e347-55

BACKGROUND: The purpose of this study was to compare lesbian, bisexual, and heterosexual college undergraduate women on selected reproductive health screenings. Associations between sexual orientation and preventive health screenings and sexual behaviors were made to determine if differences existed between the groups.

METHODS: The study was a secondary analysis of three semesters of the American College Health Association's National College Health Assessment-II.

FINDINGS: Bisexuals were 1.1 times as likely as heterosexuals to have a gynecological examination and perform a breast self-examination (BSE), and 1.5 times as likely to have an HIV test. Bisexuals also were 1.5 times as likely as lesbians to have a gynecological examination, 1.2 times as likely to perform BSE, and 1.4 times as likely to have an HIV test. Lesbians were 0.70 times as likely as heterosexuals to have a gynecological examination, but no different in BSE or HIV testing. Bisexuals were more likely to have anal intercourse than heterosexuals or lesbians (p < .001). Bisexuals were less likely to use condoms than heterosexuals for vaginal intercourse but more likely to use them for anal intercourse (p < .001). Most of the women (90%) used no barrier protection for oral sex. Bivariate tests found associations between sexual orientation and each of the preventive screenings and that those with more partners screened more frequently.

CONCLUSIONS: Health educators should attend to the unique needs of each sexual orientation group when presenting sexual health information to college women. Health care providers should undergo diversity and sensitivity training to work more effectively with these groups.

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