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Arch Sex Behav. 2016 Feb;45(2):271-80. doi: 10.1007/s10508-015-0537-x. Epub 2015 May 15.

Testing the Invariance of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey's Sexual Behavior Questionnaire Across Gender, Ethnicity/Race, and Generation.

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Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota, 75 E. River Pkwy, Minneapolis, MN, 55455, USA.
Department of Psychology, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA, USA.
SDSU/UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, San Diego, CA, USA.


Federal and state policies are based on data from surveys that examine sexual-related cognitions and behaviors through self-reports of attitudes and actions. No study has yet examined their factorial invariance--specifically, whether the relationship between items assessing sexual behavior and their underlying construct differ depending on gender, ethnicity/race, or age. This study examined the factor structure of four items from the sexual behavior questionnaire part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). As NHANES provided different versions of the survey per gender, invariance was tested across gender to determine whether subsequent tests across ethnicity/race and generation could be done across gender. Items were not invariant across gender groups so data files for women and men were not collapsed. Across ethnicity/race for both genders, and across generation for women, items were configurally invariant, and exhibited metric invariance across Latino/Latina and Black participants for both genders. Across generation for men, the configural invariance model could not be identified so the baseline models were examined. The four item one factor model fit well for the Millennial and GenerationX groups but was a poor fit for the baby boomer and silent generation groups, suggesting that gender moderated the invariance across generation. Thus, comparisons between ethnic/racial and generational groups should not be made between the genders or even within gender. Findings highlight the need for programs and interventions that promote a more inclusive definition of "having had sex."


Ethnicity/race; Factorial invariance; Gender; Generation; National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES); Sex-related behaviors

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