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Exclusion of Sexual Minority Couples from Research

Judith P. Andersen

While there has been a proliferation of research examining wellbeing and health among lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) individuals in the last decade it is unclear as to whether sexual minority couples are excluded from participating in romantic relationships research that does not have a specific LGB focus. Informal reviews of unpublished research presented at conferences in psychology and an empirical review of inclusion requirements to register in government clinical trials ( suggest that LGB couples may be excluded from participating in research on romantic couples and health. We conducted a review of both Medline and PsychINFO Ovid databases for the decade between 2002-2012 to examine this research question. Of the total articles reviewed, 88.7% excluded sexual minority couples from participating in their research study. There was no significant difference in exclusion rates for the first two years of the decade compared to the last two years. Although there has been a positive trend in the use of inclusive terminology (i.e., partner, significant other) our data suggests that the inclusion of LGB couples in relationship research has not improved in the last decade. Implications of these findings and potential reasons as to why same-sex couples may be excluded from research studies on romantic relationships are discussed. We provide recommendations for inclusivity of LGB couples in romantic relationships research.