The consequences of substance use among gay and bisexual men : a consensual qualitative research analysis

Mullens, Amy, Young, Ross McD., Hamernik, Elisabeth, & Dunne, Michael P. (2009) The consequences of substance use among gay and bisexual men : a consensual qualitative research analysis. Sexual Health, 6(2), pp. 139-152.

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  • Background

Substance use is common among gay/bisexual men and is associated with significant health risks (e.g. HIV transmission). The consequences of substance use, across the range of substances commonly used, have received little attention. The purpose of this study is to map participant’s beliefs about the effects of substance use to inform prevention, health promotion and clinical interventions.

  • Methods

Participants were interviewed about experiences regarding their substance use and recruited through medical and sexual health clinics. Data were collected though a consumer panel and individual interviews. Responses regarding perceived consequences of substance use were coded using Consensual Qualitative Research (CQR) methodology.

  • Results

Most participants reported lifetime use of alcohol, cannabis, stimulants and amyl nitrite, and recent alcohol and cannabis use. A wide range of themes were identified regarding participant’s thoughts, emotions and behaviours (including sexual behaviours) secondary to substance use, including: cognitive functioning, mood, social interaction, physical effects, sexual activity, sexual risk-taking, perception of sexual experience, arousal, sensation, relaxation, disinhibition, energy/activity level and numbing. Analyses indicated several consequences were consistent across substance types (e.g. cognitive impairment, enhanced mood), whereas others were highly specific to a given substance (e.g. heightened arousal post amyl nitrite use).

  • Conclusions

Prevention and interventions need to consider the variety of effects of substance use in tailoring effective education programs to reduce harms. A diversity of consequences appear to have direct and indirect impacts on decision-making, sexual activity and risk-taking. Findings lend support for the role of specific beliefs (e.g. expectancies) related to substance use on risk-related cognitions, emotions and behaviours.

Impact and interest:

11 citations in Scopus
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8 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 32095
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Alcohol, Drugs, HIV Transmission, Sexual Behaviour, Health, MSM, Risk Taking
DOI: 10.1071/SH08061
ISSN: 1448-5028
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > CLINICAL SCIENCES (110300) > Infectious Diseases (110309)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000) > PSYCHOLOGY (170100) > Health Clinical and Counselling Psychology (170106)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Psychology & Counselling
Current > Schools > School of Public Health & Social Work
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2009 CSIRO
Deposited On: 19 May 2010 22:45
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2015 00:00

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