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December 14, 1994

How `Definitive' Is New Sex Survey? Answers Vary

JAMA. 1994;272(22):1727-1730. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03520220021020

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THE AUTHORS of what is being billed as a "definitive survey" of sex in America believe that their findings are accurate.

Indeed, the method used was far more sophisticated than any previous effort in the field. Unlike most such studies, great care was taken to try to ensure that the 3432 respondents aged 18 to 59 years were a randomly selected and demographically representative sample. The study is probably the most rigorous attempt ever to address long-unanswered questions of great importance to public health in the United States.

The study was conducted by the National Opinion Research Center and the University of Chicago (Ill), after a prolonged struggle with congressional conservatives who had blocked funding for what they called an inappropriate invasion of privacy. Driven by the need to amass hard data in the fight against AIDS, the investigators persevered and, with backing from private foundations, eventually succeeded in completing

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