Where Sexual Orientation Has No Name: Sexual Orientation Missing Data in the Canadian Community Health Survey (2005-2014)

Brabete, Andreea C., Doray-Demers, Pascal & Bilkis Vissandjée (2020)

The Journal of Sex Research

This study used data from the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) (2005–2014) to analyze the relationships between sexual orientation item nonresponse and interview language, conversation language, migration status (migrant-non-migrant), cultural background, sex, age, education level, and marital status in a cross-sectional sample over 18 (n = 351,713 participants). Item nonresponse rates oscillated between 0.87% in 2007 and 1.4% in 2014. Individuals who self-declared as belonging to cultural groups such as Chinese, South Asian, South East Asian, Arab, Indigenous and Other had higher nonresponse odds compared to people who self-identified as Whites. The results showed significant higher nonresponse odds among immigrants. Women had higher nonresponse rates. The likelihood of non-answer increased with age and decreased with education. French interviews, interviews in other languages and speaking both English and French produced less nonresponse. Contrary to common beliefs, sexual orientation questions are not too controversial. Sexual orientation nonresponse is low and stable over time suggesting that research participants are willing to answer sexual orientation questions. These findings highlight that immigrants and people who self-declare as belonging to different cultural groups may interpret the sexual orientation questions differently.