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Sexual behavior: Review national survey details
Understanding sexual behavior is an important piece of the family planning puzzle, and a new national report provides insights on current sexual practices.1
Researchers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) have issued the report, which uses data collected over a four-year period from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The long-running survey is a program of studies designed to assess the health status of adults and children in the United States.
Results of the survey may have special significance for the study of sexual behavior, because information on sexual behavior and drug use for adults ages 20-59 was collected using the Audio Computer-Assisted Self-Interview (ACASI) method. The ACASI method, used for the first time in the NHANES survey, allows respondents to answer questions in complete privacy about socially sensitive questions related to drug use and sexual behavior.
Before 1999, many sexual behavior and drug use questions were asked in face-to-face private interviews. Studies have shown that more private methods of interviewing yield higher reporting of socially sensitive behaviors than with face-to-face interviews,2-5 says Cheryl Fryar, MSPH, an associate service fellow at NCHS and lead author of the report. "Survey planners attempted to minimize response errors by implementing ACASI for the socially sensitive behavior questions asked in the survey," says Fryar. The NHANES ACASI was conducted in a private room of a mobile examination center in English or Spanish.
What did they find?
The new report uses data collected over a four-year period (1999-2002) from the NHANES survey. A total of 6,237 adults, ages 20 to 59, provided information in the survey.
Here's what researchers found:
Substance use can be intricately connected with sexual risk taking, according to the authors of Contraceptive Technology.6 Asking questions about drug use can aid clinicians in assessing risks in family planning patients.
Here's what the new survey results found about drug use: