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Open Access Highly Accessed Study protocol

ACHESS – The Australian study of child health in same-sex families: background research, design and methodology

Simon Robert Crouch1*, Elizabeth Waters1, Ruth McNair2, Jennifer Power3 and Elise Davis1

Author Affiliations

1 The McCaughey Centre, Melbourne School of Population Health, The University of Melbourne, Level 5, 207 Bouverie St, Carlton, VIC, 3053, Australia

2 The Department of General Practice and Northwest Academic Centre, The University of Melbourne, 200 Berkeley St, Carlton, VIC, 3053, Australia

3 The Bouverie Centre, La Trobe University, 8 Gardiner St, Brunswick, VIC, 3056, Australia

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BMC Public Health 2012, 12:646  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-646

Published: 13 August 2012



There are an increasing number of children in Australia growing up with same-sex attracted parents. Although children from same-sex parent families do in general perform well on many psychosocial measures recent research is beginning to consider some small but significant differences when these children are compared with children from other family backgrounds. In particular studies suggest that there is an association between the stigma that same-sex parent families experience and child wellbeing. Research to date lacks a holistic view with the complete physical, mental and social wellbeing of children not yet addressed. In addition, most studies have focused only on families with lesbian parents and have studied only small numbers of children.


The Australian Study of Child Health in Same-Sex Families (ACHESS) is a national study that aims to determine the complete physical, mental and social wellbeing of Australian children under the age 18 years with at least one parent who self identifies as being same-sex attracted. There will be a particular focus on the impact that stigma and discrimination has on these families. Parent and child surveys will be used to collect data and will be available both online and in paper form. Measures have been chosen whenever possible that have sound conceptual underpinnings, robust psychometric properties and Australian normative data, and include the Child Health Questionnaire (CHQ), the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) and the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10).


ACHESS aims to be the largest study of its kind and will for the first time produce a detailed quantitative analysis of Australian children with same-sex attracted parents. By inviting participants to take part in further research it will also establish a valuable cohort of children, and their families, to launch future waves of research that will help us better understand the health and wellbeing of children with same-sex attracted parents.

Child health; Gay parents; Lesbian parents; Same-sex parents; Homosexuality; Sexual orientation