Category: Gay / Lesbian / Bisexual / Transgender Issues


The Importance and Development of Inclusive Demographic Forms for LGBTQ+ Communities

Sunday, November 19
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Sapphire Ballroom K & L, Level 4, Sapphire Level

Keywords: Diversity | L / G / B / T
Presentation Type: Symposium

Background: Measuring research participant demographics is a challenging balance between efficiency and accuracy. For example, most studies measuring sexual orientation use a check-box approach, with under-representative lists, offering participants the option of checking “heterosexual” or “gay/lesbian,” leaving those who identify as bisexual, queer, asexual, or other sexual orientations with the option of leaving the item blank or checking a box that does not accurately reflect them. In the former case, we are left with missing data, in the later we have individuals in groups inconsistent with their lived experience. In addition to collecting inaccurate data, we have signaled to some participants that their identity is not worth the time or attention to include on our forms, likely alienating them and/or creating an impression of the degree to which the field of psychology values them. This talk will explore how using a more inclusive demographic form can lead to important clinical and research insights that would be otherwise missed.

Methods: Demographics and levels of social anxiety were measured in 180 individuals (LSAS; Fresco et al., 2001). Our demographic form aimed to collect data in a more accurate, inclusive, and culturally considerate way (Suyemoto et al., 2016), including expanded check-box options and offering a write-in response option.

Results: Our sample was diverse in terms of sexual orientation [Lesbian n=22, Gay n=21, Heterosexual n=54 (selected from a larger sample), Bisexual n=55, Queer n=5, Questioning n=5, Unspecified n=8, Pansexual n=2, Asexual n=1, Mostly Women n=1, Free Love n=1, Continuum n=1, Mainly Men n=1, Choose not to define n=1, Open n=1, Sexual n=1]. The Lesbian/Gay, and Heterosexual groups did not report significantly different levels of social anxiety (p=.99). The Bisexual group and those who indicated a write-in response did not differ from each other (p=1.00) but did indicate significantly higher levels of social anxiety than the Lesbian/Gay (Bisexual: p=.006; Write-in: p=.03) and Heterosexual groups (Bisexual: p=.002; Write-in: p=.02).

Conclusions: In our sample the lesbian, gay, and heterosexual groups rated similar levels of social anxiety. We found that those who identified as Bisexual, or who indicated a write-in response scored significantly higher on levels of social anxiety compared to the heterosexual, lesbian, and gay groups. Thus, offering a write-in response captured a distinct and important “group.” The methodological pros and cons of using this approach, and implications for future studies will be discussed.

Lauren P. Wadsworth

University of Massachusetts


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