Associations between three measures of sexual orientation and high risk sexual behaviors in young adults

Marla E. Eisenberg, Sandra L. Pettingell, Patricia Van den Berg, Jess Haines

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    1 Scopus citations


    This study examines associations between three separate measures of sexual orientation: condom use, number of sexual partners, and time before sex with a new partner. Data come from Wave III of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, and include 11,619 participants (mean age = 22) who provided complete data on sexual orientation and behavior. Chi-square and multiple logistic regression analysis were used to examine associations between sexual orientation measures and sexual behaviors. Results indicate that males with a same-sex orientation (using an attraction, behavior or identity measure) were more likely than those with an opposite-sex or both-sex orientation to report engaging in sexual activity after a very brief acquaintance, and females with a both-sex orientation (using any measure) were more likely than those with an opposite- or same-sex orientation to report having multiple sexual partners. Associations with condom use and number of partners (for males) and length of acquaintance before sex (for females) differed based on the measure of sexual orientation used. Measures of sexual orientation are not interchangeable. Researchers and practitioners need to be explicit about the population they wish to sample, describe and target with interventions.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)63-74
    Number of pages12
    JournalJournal of LGBT Health Research
    Issue number1-2
    StatePublished - Nov 30 2009

    Bibliographical note

    Funding Information:
    This research was supported by the Schochet GLBT Research Award from the University of Minnesota’s Office of Multicultural and Academic Affairs. This research uses data from Add Health, a program project designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris, and funded by a grant P01-HD31921 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with cooperative funding from 17 other agencies. Special acknowledgment is due Ronald R. Rindfuss and Barbara Entwisle for assistance in the original design. Persons interested in obtaining data files from Add Health should contact Add Health, Carolina Population Center, 123 W. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516–2524 ( No direct support was received from grant P01-HD31921 for this analysis.

    Copyright 2017 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


    • Measurement
    • Sexual behavior
    • Sexual orientation
    • Young adulthood


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