Becoming Visible: Assessing the Availability of Online Sexual Health Information for Lesbians

Health Promot Pract. 2012 Jul;13(4):472-80. doi: 10.1177/1524839910390314. Epub 2011 Jun 15.


Research suggests that lesbians turn to the Internet for information regarding their sexual health. However, limited research has examined the availability of online sexual health resources for this population. This study evaluated the volume, scope, and readability of sexual health information available to lesbians on the Internet. The top three Nielsen-rated search engines were used to identify websites generated using the search term "lesbian sexual health." A content analysis was conducted of 25 unique, functioning websites (46 webpages total) and Flesch Reading Ease and Flesch-Kincaid grade levels were calculated. Nearly one third of the websites were located outside the United States; two were U.S. government sites. Although most sites provided information about sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS (52% to 72%), fewer provided information about safer sex practices (12% to 56%), reproductive cancers (24% to 36%), intimate partner violence (16%), family planning issues (0% to 12%), or other preventive health practices, such as mammograms and gynecological exams (4% to 44%) for lesbians. Readability of websites was much higher than recommended for health materials. Lesbians are in need of comprehensive and reliable sexual health information on the Internet. In particular, sexual health messages written in plain language are needed to encourage safer sex and other preventive practices among lesbians.

MeSH terms

  • Access to Information*
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / prevention & control
  • Consumer Health Information / statistics & numerical data*
  • Domestic Violence
  • Female
  • Health Promotion
  • Homosexuality, Female*
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Safe Sex
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / prevention & control
  • Women's Health