There's a vast amount of research on the harmful effects of pornography, and it's important that this information is accessible to the public. Weekly, we highlight a research study that sheds light on the expanding field of academic resources that showcase porn's harms. These studies cover a wide range of topics, from the sociological implications of pornography to the neurological effects of porn-consumption.
Authors: J. Weaver, S. Weaver, D. Mays, G. Hopkins, W. Kannenberg, D. McBride.
Published March 2011
Converging evidence from culturally diverse contexts indicates that sexually explicit media use behavior (SEMB; i.e., pornography consumption) is associated with risky sexual health perceptions and behaviors, many that involve high risks of HIV/STD transmission.
Essentially unexplored, and the focus here, are potential relationships between SEMB and nonsexual mental- and physical-health indicators.
A sample of 559 Seattle-Tacoma Internet-using adults was surveyed in 2006. Multivariate general linear models parameterized in a SEMB by respondent gender (2 × 2) factorial design were computed incorporating adjustments for several demographics. Variability was measured in six continuously measured health indicators (depressive symptoms, mental- and physical-health diminished days, health status, quality of life, and body mass index) was examined across two levels (users, nonusers) of SEMB.
SEMB was reported by 36.7% (n = 205) of the sample. Most SEMB users (78%) were men. After adjusting for demographics, SEMB users, compared to nonusers, reported greater depressive symptoms, poorer quality of life, more mental- and physical-health diminished days, and lower health status. The findings show that mental- and physical-health indicators vary significantly across SEMB, suggesting the value of incorporating these factors in future research and programmatic endeavors. In particular, the findings suggest that evidence-based sexual health promotion strategies simultaneously addressing individuals’ SEMB and their mental health needs might be a useful approach to improve mental health and address preventable sexual health outcomes associated with SEMB.