187286 Capturing the complexities of sexual identity development and HIV risk: Use of the Life History Calendar with sexual minority youth

Wednesday, October 29, 2008: 9:42 AM

Colleen M. Fisher, PhD , School of Social Work, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN
Research suggests that the timing and sequence of sexual identity development milestones are related to myriad health and mental health outcomes for sexual minority youth including suicidal ideation and attempts (e.g., Savin-Williams & Ream, 2003; D'Augelli, 2003), victimization experiences (e.g., D'Augelli, 2003), internalized homophobia (Dube & Savin-Williams, 1999; Dube, 2000), greater number of lifetime sex partners (Dube, 2000), and low self-esteem (Maguen et al., 2002). However, extant research with sexual minority youth has typically relied on self-administered surveys to assess the timing and sequence of sexual identity development milestones. The limitations associated with these surveys therefore hinder our ability to accurately measure, predict, and prevent these important outcomes.

This presentation will report findings from a mixed method study on HIV risk and sexual identity development which used quantitative, qualitative, and Life History Calendar (LHC) methods to explore sexual identity development among a sample of sexual minority youth (n=189). Results suggest that the LHC yielded more precise and accurate data on youth's sexual identity development trajectories as compared to the survey method. Comparisons of the two methods indicated that youth's reports of milestone timing varied by as little as .04 years to as much as 15.0 years. The specific utility of the LHC for exploring differences in the sexual identity development trajectories of sexual minority youth will be described, including strengths, limitations, and ease of administration and coding. Implications for using LHC data to develop culturally-relevant HIV prevention programs for sexual minority youth will also be discussed.

Learning Objectives:
Describe variations in sexual identity development trajectories among sexual minority youth. Identify strengths and limitations associated with use of a Life History Calendar compared to traditional survey methods in research with sexual minority youth. Develop a deeper understanding of the complexities of sexual identity development as it relates to sexual risk through mixed methods.

Keywords: Sexuality, Adolescents

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was PI on the study being presented.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.