Young Queer Women's Use of the Internet and Digital Technology for Sexual Health Information Seeking

This was a qualitative, community-based research project in collaboration with Planned Parenthood Toronto and the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto. With the help of an advisory committee of young queer women, we conducted a series of focus groups to speak with sexual minority women aged 18-29 about their experiences with seeking sexual health information online. The research findings indicate that in our sample, many of the women used the Internet for sexual health information seeking, and most appreciated sources that included the voices of a diverse range of people, included an interactive element, was affirming of their own experiences, and of course was relevant to their own sexual health experiences. In addition to seeking information about safer sex practices and sexually transmitted infections, participants also sought out and valued information about social aspects of sexual health, such as negotiating sexual encounters, health relationships, and community connections. 

Publications based on this project are forthcoming. 

Creating Trans and Nonbinary Inclusive Sexual Health Education Guidelines

This was a qualitative, community-based research project in collaboration with Planned Parenthood Toronto and the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto. Based on a survey conducted by Planned Parenthood Toronto, this project was created to address the high level of unmet need reported by trans and nonbinary youth related to sexual health education and service provision. An advisory committee of trans and nonbinary youth aged 18-29 assisted in the development, analysis, and dissemination of this project. A series of focus groups with trans and nonbinary youth were conducted to understand what inclusive sexual health education and service provision should look like, and individual interviews were held with sexual health service providers and educators to understand more about barriers to providing inclusive care. A first draft of the guidelines document was developed based on these data, which was reviewed by the advisory committee. The advisory committee then facilitated a town hall meeting, where trans and nonbinary youth, service providers, educators, and other community members engaged in critical discussion of the draft. The guidelines were revised, and a second round of focus groups was held to further evaluate the document. The feedback from these focus groups was incorporated into the guidelines, which was reviewed one more time at a community launch event. Feedback from community in attendance at the event was incorporated into the document. 

The final copy of the guidelines document can be found here

Creating Measures of Bisexual Women's Microaggression and Microaffirmation Experiences

This was a qualitative, community-based project in partnership with Margaret Robinson at the Ontario HIV Treatment Network. The goal of this project was to develop validated measures of microaggressions and microaffirmations, or the subtle stressors and social supports, bisexual women experience. An advisory committee of bisexual women helped with the direction of the study and development of the measures. We held two focus group sessions to collect qualitative descriptions of the microaggressions and microaffirmations bisexual women experience. Based on those data, we developed an initial survey of potential items that was then vetted by our advisory committee. We next launched an online survey to conduct the first statistical validation of the measures. Based on the responses, we revised the measures to a final version, and launched a second online survey to confirm the measures and understand how they related to reports of mental and sexual health. 

The published version of these measures is forthcoming. 

Understanding Young Bisexual Women's Sexual and Reproductive Health

This was a qualitative, community-based project in partnership with Planned Parenthood Toronto and the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto. This project was developed to understand how young bisexual women, aged 16-29, perceived their own sexual and reproductive health, including the barriers and facilitators of maintaining positive sexual health. Findings from this study indicate that young bisexual women perceive stigma as a major barrier to maintaining positive sexual health, both in limited access to informed service providers and relevant sexual health information, as well as in the form of violence. These experiences affected both their sexual and mental health. 

Publications from this project include the following:

Flanders, C. E., Dobinson, C., & Logie, C. (2015). “I’m never really my full self”: Young bisexual women’s perceptions of their mental health. Journal of Bisexuality, 15(4), 454-480. doi: 10.1080/15299716.2015.1079288.

Flanders, C. E., Gos, G., Dobinson, C., & Logie, C. (2015). Understanding young bisexual women’s sexual, reproductive, and mental health through syndemic theory. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 106(8), e1-e6. doi: 10.17269/CJPH.106.5100.

Flanders, C. E., Dobinson, & C., Logie, C. (2017). Young bisexual women’s perspectives on the relationship between bisexual stigma, mental health, and sexual health: a qualitative study. Critical Public Health. 27(1), 75-85. doi: 10.1080/09581596.2016.1158786.

Experiencing Bisexual Identity: Identity Threat and Affirmation

This was a mixed-methods daily diary study investigating how positive and negative experiences related to bisexual identity related to daily stress and anxiety among young bisexual people. The study was a 28-daily diary study in which participants described any positive or negative experiences they had related to their sexual identity, and also reported how stressed and anxious they were that day. The findings from this study indicate that negative experiences were associated with elevated stress, and positive experiences were associated with decreased stress and anxiety. Participants' descriptions of their negative and positive identity experiences were analyzed in a social ecological framework, as we identified that these events occurred at an intrapersonal, interpersonal, community, and societal level.

Publications from this project include the following: 

Flanders, C. E. (2015). Bisexual health: a daily diary analysis of stress and anxiety. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 37(6), 319-335. doi: 10.1080/01973533.2015.1079202.

Flanders, C. E., Robinson, M., Legge, M. M., & Tarasoff, L. A. (2016). Negative identity experiences of bisexual and other non-monosexual people: a qualitative report. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Mental Health, 20(2), 152-172. doi: 10.1080/19359705.2015.1108257.

Flanders, C. E., Tarasoff, L. A., Legge, M., Robinson, M., & Gos, G. (2016). Positive identity experiences of young bisexual and non-monosexual people: a qualitative inquiry. Journal of Homosexuality. Advanced online copy. doi: 10.1080/00918369.2016.1236592.