Comparing women of differing sexual orientations using population-based sampling

Women Health. 2004;40(3):19-34. doi: 10.1300/j013v40n03_02.


Objectives: Area probability sampling was used to conduct a women's health survey in Boston, MA. Sexual minority women (SMW) and heterosexual adult women were compared on a variety of health-related measures.

Methods: SMW-rich census tracts were identified and mapped onto zip code boundaries. Eligible respondents were women 18 and older who lived within the defined area, who were able to complete a personal interview or self-administered questionnaire in English. Differences in significant health-related outcomes by sexual orientation were examined.

Results: SMW and heterosexual women differed on access to health care and utilization of screening tests. There were no significant differences in smoking rates, eating less calories or fat, and intentions to follow mammography recommendations.

Conclusions: In certain respects, study results are congruent with previous non-probability surveys, while in others the results are different. It is likely that real differences exist in some health-related variables by sexual orientation category.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Bisexuality / statistics & numerical data
  • Boston / epidemiology
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Status*
  • Heterosexuality / statistics & numerical data*
  • Homosexuality, Female / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Women's Health*