This project involved undertaking the initial preparatory logistical and methodological development work to determine the feasibility of establishing an internet-based cohort and repeat cross-sectional research program among homosexually active men in Australia.
Concern about rising HIV notifications, diverging HIV epidemics between jurisdictions, and increasing STIs have prompted a wholesale rethink of the role of behavioural surveillance. A national internet-based platform combining both longitudinal and repeat cross-sectional studies would be unique and have the added benefits of linkage to national and state registers providing incidence data on HIV/STIs and other health conditions (e.g. cancer, mental illness, etc.) and potentially the use of health, pharmaceutical and social care services. The platform would also allow comparisons between states/territories, and with the general male population. Obvious challenges include participant retention and stratified sample-size in small states. But in this new territory there are also new issues:multi-level inter-sectoral collaboration, evaluation design, ethics, consent requirements, governance and data management (e.g. confidentiality, handling and ownership). This study investigated the feasibility of a national internet-based research platform and made recommendations to possible funders about the viability of adopting this approach.
Associate Professor John Imrie
Dr Iryna Zablotska