Online outreach services among men who use the internet to seek sex with other men (MISM) in Ontario, Canada: An online survey

Cruising Counts Research Team

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background: Men who use the Internet to seek sex with other men (MISM) are increasingly using the Internet to find sexual health information and to seek sexual partners, with some research suggesting HIV transmission is associated with sexual partnering online. Aiming to "meet men where they are at," some AIDS service organizations (ASOs) deliver online outreach services via sociosexual Internet sites and mobile apps. Objective: To investigate MISM's experiences and self-perceived impacts of online outreach. Methods: From December 2013 to January 2014, MISM aged 16 years or older were recruited from Internet sites, mobile apps, and ASOs across Ontario to complete a 15-minute anonymous online questionnaire regarding their experience of online outreach. Demographic factors associated with encountering online outreach were assessed using backward-stepwise multivariable logistic regression (P<.05 was considered significant). Results: Of 1830 MISM who completed the survey, 8.25% (151/1830) reported direct experience with online outreach services. Encountering online outreach was more likely for Aboriginal versus white MISM, MISM from Toronto compared with MISM from either Eastern or Southwestern Ontario, and MISM receiving any social assistance. MISM who experienced online outreach felt the service provider was friendly (130/141, 92.2%), easy to understand (122/140, 87.1%), helpful (115/139, 82.7%), prompt (107/143, 74.8%), and knowledgeable (92/134, 68.7%); half reported they received a useful referral (49/98, 50%). Few MISM felt the interaction was annoying (13/141, 9.2%) or confusing (18/142, 12.7%). As a result of their last online outreach encounter, MISM reported the following: better understanding of (88/147, 59.9%) and comfort with (75/147, 51.0%) their level of sexual risk; increased knowledge (71/147, 48.3%); and feeling less anxious (51/147, 34.7%), better connected (46/147, 31.3%), and more empowered (40/147, 27.2%). Behaviorally, they reported using condoms more frequently (48/147, 32.7%) and effectively (35/147, 23.8%); getting tested for HIV (43/125, 34.4%) or STIs (42/147, 28.6%); asking for their partners'HIV statuses (37/147, 25.2%); and serosorting (26/147, 17.7%). Few MISM reported no changes (15/147, 10.2%) and most would use these services again (98/117, 83.8%). Most MISM who did not use online outreach said they did not need these services (1074/1559, 68.89%) or were unaware of them (496/1559, 31.82%). Conclusions: This is the first online outreach evaluation study of MISM in Canada. Online outreach services are a relatively new and underdeveloped area of intervention, but are a promising health promotion strategy to provide service referrals and engage diverse groups of MISM in sexual health education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4503
JournalJournal of medical Internet research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© David J Brennan, Nathan J Lachowsky, Georgi Georgievski, Brian R Simon Rosser, Duncan MacLachlan, James Murray, Cruising Counts Research Team.


  • Gay men
  • HIV prevention
  • Internet
  • Men who have sex with men
  • Mobile technology and sexual health
  • Online outreach
  • Sexual health


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