150404 Challenges of internet survey research among men who have sex with men

Monday, November 5, 2007

Donald Allensworth-Davies, MSc , Data Coordinating Center, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Swagata Banik, PhD , Department of Psychology, Cleveland State University, Cleveland, OH
Seth Welles, ScD, PhD , Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Drexel University School of Public Health, Philadelphia, PA
Leslie Fisher, PhD , Department of Psychology, Cleveland State University, Cleveland, OH
Michael W. Ross, PhD , WHO Center for Health Promotion Research and Development, The University of Texas - Houston School of Public Health, Houston, TX
The use of the Internet to conduct studies of sexual behavior and HIV/STD transmission among men who have sex with men (MSM) has grown tremendously in recent years largely in response to studies showing that men who use the Internet to find sexual partners are more likely to have unprotected anal intercourse with other men found over the Internet. As part of two Internet studies we conducted of MSM in the United States and India we developed and assessed methods of Internet-based survey research among MSM. Challenges that we encountered in our studies included: 1) subject recruitment; 2) language and cultural issues; 3) ethical issues; 4) survey administration; 5) providing incentives for subjects; 6) threats to data validity; and 7) generalizability of findings. We argue that while there may be reduced external validity due to self-selection of MSM respondents, there is little threat to internal validity due to selection bias. Drawing on examples from our studies, we will discuss the practical methods and strategies we used to address each of these challenges to help inform future Internet studies of MSM.

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify some of the major challenges in conducting Internet survey research of MSM. 2. Understand important differences in conducting national and international Internet surveys. 3. Discuss methods and strategies for a successful Internet study of MSM.

Keywords: Gay Men, Internet

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.