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Population contextual associations with heterosexual partner numbers: a multilevel analysis
  1. A M A Smith1,
  2. S V Subramanian2
  1. 1Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia
  2. 2Department of Society, Human Development and Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Anthony Smith
 Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University, 215 Franklin Street, Melbourne 3000, Australia; anthony.smith{at}


Objective: The study examines whether an individual’s sexual behaviour is associated with the demographic context within which they live.

Methods: Data from a large behavioural survey were matched to the census and the number of opposite sex partners individuals reported having in the year before interview was modelled against a suite of individual characteristics and analogous characteristics for the population in which they lived.

Results: The number of partners reported (none, one, two, three, or more) were variously associated with an individual’s gender, age, marital status, sexual identity, and same sex activity in the previous year. Additionally, population age structure, sex ratio, and the proportion of the population reporting specific patterns of sexual activity were associated with the behaviour of individuals.

Conclusions: This study demonstrates that population context is associated with individual behaviour even after individual characteristics have been taken into account. This suggests that multilevel modelling of sexual behaviour data can provide new insights into the pattern of sexual behaviour.

  • SSDs, statistical subdivisions
  • sexual behaviour
  • contextual influences

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  • Competing interests: none.

  • Ethical approval: This study was approved by the La Trobe University Human Ethics Committee.