Background/introduction Studies exploring public participation in health research have not, to date, included the perspectives of gay and bisexual men taking part in behavioural surveillance research. Understanding factors which motivate men to participate in behavioural research, and their perceptions of feedback on anonymous HIV antibody tests are important in the design of future studies.
Aim(s)/objectives The aim of this qualitative study was to gain insight into men’s motivations for participation in the Gay Men’s Sexual Health Survey (GMSHS), and their understandings of, and views on, HIV testing as part of the survey.
Methods Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with 29 gay and bisexual men who participated in the 2011 GMSHS. Men were recruited in 13 licensed premises on the commercial ‘gay scene’ in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Data were analysed thematically, focusing on motives for participation and perceptions of not receiving individual feedback on HIV status.
Results Most men expressed sophisticated understandings of the purpose of behavioural research and distinguished between this and individual diagnostic testing for HIV. Men’s accounts suggested a shared understanding of participation in research as a means of contributing to ‘community’ HIV prevention efforts. Among the men interviewed feedback on HIV status was not deemed crucial.
Discussion/conclusion Continuing to engage with gay and bisexual men, and practitioners working within these communities, is vital to engendering trust in, and support for, future behavioural research. This is particularly important during the process of developing new and innovative research strategies. Further research is needed to explore men’s perceptions of participation in research, and their perspectives on receiving feedback on testing, within wider contexts.
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