TABLE 3.1 Summary of Measures of Sexual Orientation Used in Studies of Lesbian Health


Measures Used to Assess Sexual Orientation





Focus of Study (sample size)

Berger et al., 1995


Sexually active during lifetime with one or more female partners; no sexual intercourse with men during past 12 months


Whether bacterial vaginosis occurs in lesbians and, if it does, whether it is sexually transmitted (n = 103)

Bevier et al., 1995


Sex of sexual partners since 1978; engagement in vaginal intercourse, oral-penile sex, and/or anal intercourse in more than 50% of sexual encounters


Characteristics, behaviors, and HIV infection of women attending an STDa clinic who reported same-sex contact (n = 135) compared to women who had sex only with men (n = 1,383)

Bloomfield, 1993

Whether women report being primarily heterosexual, primarily or exclusively lesbian, or bisexual



Drinking patterns of self-identified heterosexual women and self-identified lesbian or bisexual women in San Francisco (n = 844)

Brand et al., 1992

Scale from 1 = exclusively heterosexual to 5 = exclusively gay or lesbian



Comparison of lesbians, gay men, and heterosexuals on weight, dieting, preoccupation with weight, and exercise activity (n = 124)

Buenting, 1992



Sex of preferred sexual partner

Survey of health lifestyles of lesbian and heterosexual women (n = 79)

Carroll et al., 1997

Self-identification as lesbian, bisexual, heterosexual, or other

Sex of partner asked with respect to participation in nine specific sexual practices; years since last male sexual encounter; lifetime number of male and female partners


STD testing, diagnosis, and sexual practices among self-identified lesbian and bisexual women (n = 421)

Chicago Women's Health Study (Hughes et al., 1997)

Self-identification: "only heterosexual, mostly heterosexual, bisexual, mostly homosexual, or only homosexual"

Sexual behavior in the past year: "only men, mostly men, equally men and women, mostly women, only women"

Current sexual interest or attraction: "only men, mostly men, equally men and women, mostly women, only women"

Indicators of mental health in lesbians (n = 284) and a comparison group of heterosexual women (n = 134)

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