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ETSU researcher to study reproductive health among lesbian, bisexual women in northeast Tennessee

Contributed • Sep 21, 2018 at 6:04 PM

Dr. Katie Baker, an assistant professor in East Tennessee State University’s College of Public Health, has received a grant award from the institution’s Research Development Committee to study reproductive health attitudes, beliefs and experiences among lesbian and bisexual women in northeast Tennessee.

“Studies have found that lesbian and bisexual women experience different reproductive health outcomes when compared to their heterosexual peers,” Baker said.

“Bisexual women are more likely to experience an unintended pregnancy and less likely to receive routine sexually transmitted infection testing and cervical cancer screening.”

Lesbian and bisexual women are also more likely to delay routine health screenings or avoid medical care altogether due to fear of discrimination by providers and health systems, she added.

“Of particular concern is the avoidance of reproductive health care by lesbian and bisexual women, since initiation of reproductive health care generally represents a crucial entry point into the health care system for women,” Baker said.

Through the research project, Baker and her team are developing an online survey to administer in early 2019 to more than 200 lesbian and bisexual women between 18 and 25 years old. Additionally, semi-structured interviews will take place with 15 individuals from that same population this fall.

“This sample represents a highly underserved population in Appalachia, and study results will provide vital data to inform and improve reproductive health care delivery,” Baker said.

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