People with disabilities make up one of the largest minority populations in the United States. Yet, Indiana University researchers say this population has been underrepresented and understudied in research.
A new IU research initiative will shed light on people with disabilities' sexual experiences, which past research has shown can impact their quality of life.
The new Disability and Sexual Health Initiative is a partnership between researchers at IU's Kinsey Institute and the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington. It will focus on under-researched populations with disabilities, starting with a study on people with blindness or visual impairment and condom use.
The initial study is in the data collection phase and will explore participants’ beliefs about and experiences using condoms, what’s needed to increase correct and pleasurable condom use, and challenges related to condom availability and partner acceptance.
Kinsey Institute Executive Director Justin Garcia says the research initiative will give much-needed attention to understanding and improving the intimate lives and sexual wellbeing of people with disabilities.
Co-founders of the initiative are Jennifer Piatt and William Yarber, both of whom are researchers at Kinsey and faculty members in the School of Public Health.
IU students will also play an integral role in the research, with two Ph.D. students serving as core members of the team and two undergraduate students serving as researchers.
Yarber says having students involved in the research initiative will help prepare them to be future research leaders. He says their work will help the team identify gaps in current condom use education among different disability populations, with the goal of identifying solutions to improve correct and pleasurable condom usage.
The researchers also plan to conduct additional condom use studies focused on people with different disabilities.