Assessing the effect of online recruitment of the Gay Community Periodic Surveys: Increased reach to younger, at-risk men in regional areas

Stream: Rapid Papers 2
Date: Friday, 1 April 2016
Time: 11.15 am – 1.00 pm

Abstract

Background: In 2014 the Gay Community Periodic Surveys (GCPS) implemented online advertising and recruitment of gay and bisexual men to supplement face-to-face recruitment at gay events, social venues, clinics and sex-on-premises venues. We evaluated the effect of this change on the sample composition. Survey data collected in Queensland and Adelaide in 2014 and in Sydney and Melbourne in 2015 were analysed to identify differences between online and offline participants.

Methods: Men were recruited online or offline (that is in community venues, clinics or events). We used chi-square and logistic regression procedures to compare demographic characteristics and risk practices on the online and offline subsamples.

Results: Data from 8,261 participants were included. 6,271 (75.9%) men completed surveys offline and 1,990 (24.1%) online. Men who participated online were younger (30.5 vs. 37.0 yrs, p <.001), more likely to live in regional areas (20.2% v 5.5%, p <.001), less socially engaged with gay men and more likely to be born in Australia (85.8% vs. 68.0%, p <.001). Online participants were less likely to have been tested for HIV (80.6% vs 91.5%, p <.001) and reporting fewer male partners, but more likely to report condomless anal sex (with casual or regular partners) than offline participants.

Conclusions: Online and offline participants differed significantly on demographic, sexual practice and testing variables. Online recruitment successfully reaches men who may be at risk for HIV but not otherwise captured through offline recruitment. Differences on the behaviour monitoring indicators need to be considered in ongoing reporting of behavioural trends.

Authors

Peter Hull (Presenter), Centre for Social Research in Health
Peter Hull is a Research Office at the Centre for Social Research in Health and has worked on the Gay Community Periodic Surveys for over 10 years. He has expertise in electronic survey methods.

Martin Holt, Centre for Social Research in Health
Martin Holt is an Associate Professor at the Centre for Social Research in Health.

Toby Lea, Centre for Social Research in Health
Dr Toby Lea is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Social Research in Health.

Limin Mao, Centre for Social Research in Health
Dr Limin Mao is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Social Research in Health.

Evelyn Lee, Centre for Social Research in Health
Evelyn Lee is a Research Officer at the Centre for Social Research in Health.

John de Wit, Centre for Social Research in Health
Professor John de Wit is Director of the Centre for Social Research in Health.

Garrett Prestage, The Kirby Institute

Iryna Zablotska, The Kirby Institute