Lesbian and bisexual women are more likely to binge drink and take illegal drugs and less likely to have a pap smear, a Curtin University study reveals. The WA Lesbian and Bisexual Women’s Health survey, conducted by the university’s WA More…
It is most unfortunate that this research information has been released just at the time when the christian fundamentalists’ anti-homosexuality lobby had a boost through the Sydney Anglican church supporting their claims about unheathy “homosexual lifestyles”. (http://www.smh.com.au/national/archbishop-backs-acl-stance-on-gay-lifestyle-20120910-25orl.html). Of course research like this has a strategic purpose in applying for grants for health promotion, appropriate services and further research funding, however Maiolo’s article is deficient re important details of methodology like how and where the researchers accessed participants.
Too often research into lesbian and gay issues and needs draws its participants from those attending pubs, other commercial hospitality and entertainment, the larger and better known GLBTI and/or lesbian social groups or through the so called GLBTI newspapers and e-lists/networks. Despite the contemporary media’s fascination with all things non-hetero-normative, there will be people who are not reached through the above named pathways. It is well known that many GLBTI people choose not to so identify, or who do so on a very limited or private basis and/or are not connected with the GLBTI venues and communities (it is not a single-entity community), and media. This will also introduce an age bias as I know that, for instance, many old/er lesbians would fall into this invisible population. This not insignificant proportion of invisible people constitute a largely hidden population which means that research claiming or suggesting to be representative of lesbians will be questionable.
I could survey lesbians in their 60s and 70s who are both visible and invisible and I’m sure there would be less than one third into binge drinking. Further I question why the headline for this article trumpeted drink and drugs when the research data revealed 27% had never had a pap smear. And I wonder if the research looked into the health-affirming activities undertaken by many lesbians I know or know of e.g. nutrition, exercise, stress management, pro-active mental health practices, social connectedness, community participation and activism .
Would researchers in future report more fully their methodological details. And would those reporting the reports pay attention to including the significant methodological details and giving better coverage of the various categories of findings, not just the sensational aspects.
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