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How individuals involved in BDSM lifestyle perceive access to health care: A sampling of the Portland population involved in BDSM lifestyle

1 August 2005


Definitions on sexual minorities are often vague and nonspecific. The definition for BDSM given below is predominately from The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF). We have altered it based on numerous personal conversations with individuals, couples, and groups immersed in the BDSM lifestyle.

BDSM is a sexual orientation or behavior among two or more consenting adult partners. The behavior may include, but is not limited to, the use of physical and/or psychological stimulation to produce sexual arousal and satisfaction. This may and often includes physical restraint, sensory deprivation, inflicting/receiving pain, providing/receiving pleasure. Usually one partner will take an active role and the other will take a passive role. The behavior allows participants to experience and explore trust and power through sex play and sexual fantasy. The guidelines "safe, sane, and consensual" are considered the foundation of BDSM activity. People who participate in and identify sexually with bondage, domination, sadism, and/or masochism (BDSM) are considered a sexual minority. This group displays strong internal unity and supportive structures for its members. The lifestyle itself has been minimally studied, and the extent to which their members relate to the medical community for care . has not been formally studied at all.

If this community of individuals avoids or postpones medical care based on the expression of their sexuality, it would be helpful to know what motivates them to avoid care. This information can be used to educate both the members of this sexual minority as well as medical practitioners.

Purpose The purpose of this study is aimed to identify the demographic, historical, experiential, and attitudinal factors that motivate men and women involved in BDSM lifestyle in the Portland, Oregon catchments area, to seek or defer medical care. The survey questions are designed to either validate or to render as erroneous the a priori assumption of this researcher that removable barriers exist between the BDSM community and its health care providers.

Methods 360 self-selecting subjects who reside in the Portland, Oregon catchments area completed and submitted a convenience survey that was available on-line from January 10, 2005 to March 31, 2005.

Conclusion The use of a convenience survey made available on-line to obtain information regarding a particular population's attitudes and beliefs concerning access to health care appears to be appropriate.


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