Feasibility of a national internet-based cohort study of men who have sex with men in Australia

Past project

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.

Non-Staff Involved

Associate Professor John Imrie

Dr Iryna Zablotska

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