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Open Access Study protocol

The sexual attitudes and lifestyles of London's Eastern Europeans (SALLEE Project): design and methods

Alison R Evans1*, Violetta Parutis2, Graham Hart1, Catherine H Mercer1, Christopher Gerry2, Richard Mole2, Rebecca S French3, John Imrie45 and Fiona Burns1

Author Affiliations

1 Centre for Sexual Health and HIV Research, Research Department of Infection and Population Health, University College London, 3rd Floor Mortimer Market Centre, London WC1E 6JB, UK

2 School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK

3 London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel St, London WC1E 7HT, UK

4 Africa Centre For Health and Population Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Mtubatuba 3935, South Africa

5 National Centre in HIV Social Research - Australia, Robert Webster Building, The University of New South Wales, Sydney 2052, Australia

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BMC Public Health 2009, 9:399  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-9-399

Published: 30 October 2009

Abstract

Background

Since May 2004, ten Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries have joined the European Union, leading to a large influx of CEE migrants to the United Kingdom (UK). The SALLEE project (sexual attitudes and lifestyles of London's Eastern Europeans) set out to establish an understanding of the sexual lifestyles and reproductive health risks of CEE migrants. CEE nationals make up a small minority of the population resident in the UK with no sampling frame from which to select a probability sample. There is also difficulty estimating the socio-demographic and geographical distribution of the population. In addition, measuring self-reported sexual behaviour which is generally found to be problematic, may be compounded among people from a range of different cultural and linguistic backgrounds. This paper will describe the methods adopted by the SALLEE project to address these challenges.

Methods

The research was undertaken using quantitative and qualitative methods: a cross-sectional survey of CEE migrants based on three convenience samples (recruited from community venues, sexual health clinics and from the Internet) and semi-structured in-depth interviews with a purposively selected sample of CEE migrants. A detailed social mapping exercise of the CEE community was conducted prior to commencement of the survey to identify places where CEE migrants could be recruited. A total of 3,005 respondents took part in the cross-sectional survey, including 2,276 respondents in the community sample, 357 in the clinic sample and 372 in the Internet sample. 40 in-depth qualitative interviews were undertaken with a range of individuals, as determined by the interview quota matrix.

Discussion

The SALLEE project has benefited from using quantitative research to provide generalisable data on a range of variables and qualitative research to add in-depth understanding and interpretation. The social mapping exercise successfully located a large number of CEE migrants for the community sample and is recommended for other migrant populations, especially when little or no official data are available for this purpose. The project has collected timely data that will help us to understand the sexual lifestyles, reproductive health risks and health service needs of CEE communities in the UK.