Sexual attitudes and lifestyles

You should state the objective of your chosen piece of research, and use this section to outline how the researcher/s carried out their research. You should describe the aims of the research and the research methods that were used. (You may wish to consider sample size, access to sample, ethics etc.) Johnson et al aimed to research sexual behaviour due to the emergence of AIDS in the 1980s. Before this study, the study of sexual behaviour was much neglected due to attitudes towards it. The Conservative government declined to finance the survey due its belief that personal business should be ‘kept behind closed doors’. People working in the fields of fertility, sexual health and education were hindered in their work by the shortage of data. Luckily the ‘Wellcome Trust’ funded the research.

With the emergence of the AIDS epidemic, up-to-date research was required. This study was the largest and most comprehensive survey of sexual behaviour ever conducted. The information was collected from over 19,000 randomly selected British representatives selected through the Post office postcode address file. To gain access to the sample, times were arranged for meeting at their homes. Before this research, how the disease spread was unknown and the number of victims was thought to be 1 in 3.

This research was a descriptive and detailed study of sexual attitudes and lifestyles of the British public aged 16 to 59. The objective was to find out the link between sexual behaviour and AIDS. Two research methods were used to carry out their study. They employed structured interviews, which took place in the interviewee’s home and a self-completion questionnaire booklet to fill in, e.g.

Have you ever had any kind of sexual experience or sexual contact with a male? This was then sent to London anonymously to be put on computers for statistical analysis. The interviewer had training and was issued standardised instructions. The invasion of personal information brings up the ethical issue intrusion. This was justified by the fact that public health services desperately needed this information to save lives. The ethical issue that the survey was time – consuming was overcome as individuals showed public willingness. Informed consent was attained by the 80% response rate of the selected sample.

Age was considered because legal complications could occur if under 16’s were involved. Researchers assumed that over 59’s would be less likely to talk about and be involved in sexual practices, and more likely to take the Margaret Thatcher viewpoint of keeping personal business personal. (365 words) c) Reasons for selection of research design (250-300 words) Use this section to outline why the researcher/s chose the methodology outlined above. You should explain why the methodology was thought suitable for achieving the kind of data required by the researcher/s

The decisions about the methods of data collection were centred on the nature, breadth and complexity of the information required. The information needed, about sexual behaviour from the subjects, was sensitive and of a personal nature. This meant that the respondents would need to be convinced of the necessity of the information before they would commit themselves fully. A 1-2-1 interview was chosen as it allowed interviewers to explain the research fully and reassure the interviewee. This would be harder to achieve when using a postal survey or over the phone.

The planned length of an interview being just under an hour for a quarter of the sample and 40-45 minutes for the remainder of the sample would be more acceptable for face-to-face interviews rather than postal or telephone surveys. The information needed was of a large amount and therefore a personal interviewing technique was chosen. This was because people would not generally give personal information over the phone to someone they are not familiar with. The data needed to be collected was complex and therefore there was a need for careful definitions of the questions so they were understood. This was also more suited to face – to – face interviews.

Another problem with using a telephone technique would have been that the interviewer would have had little control over whether the interview was being conducted in comfort or if other household members were present. A high proportion of the British public were without telephones, particularly younger people, at the time of research. This is another reason why using a telephone survey wouldn’t have been best suited as a means of data collection. An early pilot survey was carried out before the actual study. A postal survey was attempted but the response rate was very poor. On balance, the use of personal interview techniques seemed to be best suited to the social context of the study and finding the specific objectives. (320 words)

There are several ethical considerations involving a study of this nature. The study obviously has to be a confidential one. The information on the participant will remain always need to remain private. Informed consent needs to be gained and the …

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