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January 11, 1995

Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles

JAMA. 1995;273(2):168. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520260090039

Propelled into action by the AIDS epidemic and building upon prior surveys of sexual behavior, this study of "a representative sample of the British population" was carried out from 1986 to 1994. The authors (faculty of two British medical schools and an institute) designed the study with a view to many critical issues.

Knowing that some especially health-risky behaviors were practiced by small numbers of people, the researchers calculated that they must have approximately 20 000 interviewees. Knowing that their data should be amenable to comparison with data from similar surveys, they used standard questions where possible. Knowing of the sensitivities to sexual issues of the public, the government, the respondents, and the interviewers, they carefully phrased and pretested all items. Knowing of latent sources for bias, they trained their interviewers (dropping the few who were uncomfortable), let respondents choose the sex of their interviewer, and hewed rigidly to a

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