Public Health Messaging during the COVID Pandemic: Dating App Usage and Sexual Wellbeing among Men Who have Sex with Men

Lead Research Organisation: University of Salford
Department Name: School of Health and Society


Public health measures to mitigate the spread of coronavirus are translated into media messaging by organisations that target the health of different groups. Engaging experiences of the minority group of men who have sex with men (MSM), we will provide rapid evidence on the approaches and responses to these messages in relation to using digital platforms to connect for sexual purposes. Organisations have variously advised MSM to practice sexual abstinence, engage in digitally mediated sexual encounters or wear masks and avoiding the exchange of saliva during sex. Campaigns are running which present the situation as a route to ending HIV. Yet, 8/7/2020 the government cut £5M from the pre-exposure prophylaxis budget - an effective of reducing HIV transmission. We must understand MSM's reception of these messages to impact upon policy and practice for this group, shed light on what to look for where minorities are concerned, and provide learning about COVID public health messaging that will benefit the general population.

To do this, we will:
> Run three online surveys to generate data about public sexual health messaging reception, and
dating/hooking up practices (WP1);
> Undertake a discourse analysis of the web page resources created by organisations who support
the health and wellbeing of MSM, and of the messaging provided by online dating and hook up
apps (WP2);
> Collect historical and ongoing conversational data from selected social and digital media
frequented by MSM. This data will be contextualised by analysing the media they are generated
with using the walkthrough method (WP3).


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