Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Measures for Global Survey Research: A Primer for Improving Data Quality


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Author(s): Glick, J. L. & Andrinopoulos, K.

Year: 2019


Glick, J. L. & Andrinopoulos, K. (2019). Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Measures for Global Survey Research: A Primer for Improving Data Quality. Chapel Hill, NC, USA: MEASURE Evaluation, University of North Carolina
Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Measures for Global Survey Research: A Primer for Improving Data Quality Abstract:

Without existing standards for asking questions, data collectors or interviewers may rely on their own perceptions of clients to categorize people as members of a sexual and gender minority (SGM) population. This practice can lower the validity (truthfulness) of data. When self-report of sexual orientation or gender identity is elicited, using categories and terminology that align with the client’s or research participant’s perspective is critical. It is important to understand categories from the “lens,” or perspective, of sexual and gender minorities in each context, rather than universally applying a fixed global set of questions and responses.

The purpose of this report is to provide recommendations on how to develop closed-ended survey questions to measure sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) that are context specific, while, to the degree possible, also fulfilling global data reporting needs for HIV key populations. The report is written for all actors involved in the design of data-creation activities, including for surveillance, monitoring, evaluation, and broader research purposes. It begins with an overview of the current state of SOGI measurement in HIV programs. Next, it describes an inductive process for generating SOGI questions. The first step is to ensure a good understanding of SOGI concepts and review context-specific literature related to gender and sexuality. The second step is to review existing survey questions and assess their utility for the particular context and HIV-related issue under study. In some cases, a third step of conducting qualitative research may be warranted. The fourth and final step is to assess the potential questions through piloting and cognitive interviewing. The report provides instruction on each recommended step, and guidance on where to access additional information when necessary.

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