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A partnership is deduced to be ongoing if the participant was married/cohabiting and described their partnership as married/cohabiting, or, if the participant was not cohabiting at interview and they described their partnership as non-cohabiting and they reported one or more occasions of sex in the month before interview.
We used STATA version 8.0 to calculate descriptive statistics to summarize characteristics of all heterosexual partnerships in the past year, and used logistic regression to consider how these characteristics are associated with condom use, taking account of the stratification, clustering and weighting of the sample.
Background Sexually transmitted infection (STI) risk is determined both by partner numbers and partnership characteristics.
Studies describing only recent partnership(s) overestimate long-term partnerships and underestimate the contribution of casual partnerships to STI transmission in populations.
Of course, the more recent the time frame of interest, the larger the proportion of participants who will be invited to report detailed data for all their partnerships.
Yet, even with a relatively recent focus, such as in the past year, there will be some participants who report many partners, for whom detailed partnership data will be collected only for a proportion of all their partnerships.
In order to address this potential bias, we have developed statistical weights for partnerships so that partnerships reported in detail can be weighted to account for partnerships lacking detailed data.Details of the methodology and question wording are published elsewhere.Briefly, 11 161 people, of whom 6399 were women, were interviewed between May 1999 and February 2001, equating to a response rate of 65.4%, which is in line with other major surveys conducted in Britain.It is therefore important to understand the characteristics of partnerships to improve our understanding of STI transmission dynamics and to ensure that sexual health promotion messages are appropriately targeted and delivered.However, to date, limited evidence exists due to a paucity of population probability surveys, so inference is often made from studies using convenience sampling and/or studies that focus on specific population groups, which results in estimates that are not generalizable to the population as a whole.
Computer-assisted self-interviews asked respondents about partner numbers and detailed questions about their three most recent partnerships.