The METHOD Study
Exploring the experience of drug use, sex, and wellbeing among gay and bi men, trans women and non-binary people in NSW. For a detailed overview of study participation, please read the study participant information sheet and consent form, here.
What is the research about?
The research study aims to collect information about gay, bisexual men (cis and trans), trans women and nonbinary people who use drugs. The research will also document and evaluate peer led interventions addressing sexualised drug use (SDU) for gay and bisexual men (cis and trans), trans women and non-binary people. Interventions have been developed by ACON, the leading organisation specialising in health and wellbeing for sexuality and gender diverse communities in NSW.
What does participation in this research require, and are there any risks involved?
If you agree to participate in this study, you will be asked to complete the following research procedures.
Screening: Completing the screening measures will determine whether you are eligible to take part and will take approximately five minutes. The screening questionnaire will be administered to you online, on the study website.
A screening questionnaire will ask about:
your sexual orientation,
your gender identity,
whether or not you currently live in NSW,
whether you can verbally communicate in English.
Whether or not you have used party drugs within the past 12 months
Baseline questionnaire: A baseline questionnaire will ask you more questions about your identity and your current circumstances. You will also be asked about your behaviours in relation to drug use and sex, your sexual health, mental health, and broader wellbeing. People who report the use of drugs in sexual contexts will also be asked more questions about their drug use and their current or previous use of alcohol and other drug services.
Interventions: Those who report use of drugs in sexual contexts in their baseline survey will be invited to complete voluntary interventions. Participants may choose to complete both online interventions and peer to peer interventions if they wish, participants do not have to participate in interventions to participate in the research. All interventions associated with this study have been developed by ACON.
Online interventions: These are interventions that can be self-complete by the participant. Participants who complete online self-directed interventions will be invited to reflect on the role of drug use in their lives, provided a reflective summary of responses and asked to consider whether they wish to change their behaviours around drug use, or access any drug and alcohol services. Online intervention participants will also be directed to harm reduction resources about sex and drugs, they will also have opportunity to additionally complete a peer-to-peer intervention should they wish. Online interventions can be complete as many times as a participant likes.
Peer to peer interventions: Peer to peer interventions are like online interventions but delivered face to face or via telehealth by trained peers. Peers who deliver peer to peer interventions are people who have lived experience of sexualised drug use, who have been trained to provide brief interventions to address harms related to sexualised drug use and trained to support people to better manage their use or change their patterns of use. Participants who choose to speak to a peer about their drug use will be asked to reflect on their substance use and will be invited to consider whether they wish to change their behaviours around drug use or access any drug and alcohol services. Participants who speak to a peer will also be provided referrals to relevant harm reduction and health information. Participants who complete peer to peer interventions can complete more than one intervention subject to the recommendations of peer interventionists at ACON
De-identified data related to your participation in and completion of interventions as well as the content of your interventions will be recorded and kept by the study team.
Follow up surveys: All participants, those who complete interventions and those who do not, will be invited to complete a follow up survey on a quarterly basis for up to two years participants will be invited to participate in a maximum of 8 follow up surveys over 2 years. These follow up surveys will ask similar questions to the baseline survey about drug use, sexual practice, sexual health, mental health, and broader wellbeing. Those who report the use of drugs in sexual contexts in their follow up surveys will be invited to participate in the interventions that are outlined above.
Additional Costs and Reimbursement: There are no costs associated with participating in this research project, nor will you be paid. However, upon completing each follow up survey you will receive an invitation to enter a raffle prize draw, with the winner receiving a prize valued at $200.
Psychological Distress: You may feel that some of the questions we ask are stressful or upsetting. If you do not wish to answer a question, you may skip it and go to the next question, or you may stop immediately. This study asks about some sensitive topics, these include discussions of drug overdose, emergency department admission, drug use and method of administration, sexual consent/assault, HIV/HCV status. If you become upset or distressed because of your participation in the research project, the research team will be able to refer you to appropriate support. Alternatively, several free contactable support services are included on our resources page. Any counselling or support will be provided by qualified staff who are not members of the research team. This counselling will be provided free of charge.
What are the possible benefits to participation?
We hope to use information we get from this research study to benefit others who either identify and gay or bisexual men, trans women or nonbinary. Results from this research will be used to inform health and wellbeing service needs of these populations. Specifically, this research will focus on service needs as they relate to drug use among sexuality and gender diverse communities in NSW.
Part of this research will focus specifically on peer led substance use interventions being delivered by ACON in partnership with Sydney Sexual Health Centre, St Vincent’s Hospital, NADA, and Positive Life NSW. By participating in this research participants will get access to these services and resources while helping ACON to refine and improve their services, posing community level benefits to people who use substances.
What will happen to information about me?
Your confidentiality will be maintained, and no identifying details will be linked to your responses. At consent, you will be provided with a study identification number that will be used in place of your identifying information. Your information will however be re-identifiable, and confidentiality may be broken if you disclose the intention to harm yourself or others. In this instance your information will be shared with the clinical team at ACON who will follow up as per their routine protocols. Should you be subject to criminal justice proceedings researchers will be obligated to comply with any requests for information that are made by the court.
All data will be securely saved and is compliant and certified under both the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield and Swiss-US Privacy Shield. All electronic databases will be protected by password and UNSW Sydney firewalls.
Your information will only be used to contact you to complete a questionnaire and is sent from an external database, separate to your responses.
By signing the consent form, you consent to the research team collecting and using information about you for the research study.
The research team will store the data collected from you for this research project for:
A minimum of 7 years after the publication of research results.
You will be asked to provide your consent for the research team to share or use the information collected from you in future research that:
Will be specific to the aims of this research.
Will be an extension of, or closely related to, the original project; or is in the same general area of research.
Currently, there are no planned secondary research projects. Any future research to utilise your data in this way will undergo its own secondary ethics approval by the UNSW Human Research Ethics Committee.
How and when will I find out what the results of the research study are?
The research team intend to publish and/ report the results of the research. All Information will be published in a way that will not identify you or any study participant. The research team and partner organisations, ACON will also update their websites or social media pages with results from the study.
If you would like to receive a copy of the results you can let the research team know by inserting your email or mailing address in the consent form. We will only use these details to send you the results of the research.
What if I want to withdraw from the research study?
If you do consent to participate – even after you have signed the consent, you may withdraw at any time. You can do so by completing the ‘Withdrawal of Consent Form’ which is provided when you are emailed your consent form. Your decision not to participate or to withdraw from the study will not affect your relationship with the ACON, Sydney Sexual Health Centre, NADA, Positive Life NSW or St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney. If you decide to leave the research study, the researchers will not collect additional information from you. You can request that any information about you be withdrawn from the research project.
What should I do if I have further questions about my involvement in the research study?
The person you may need to contact will depend on the nature of your query. If you require further information regarding this study or if you have any problems which may be related to your involvement in the study, you can contact the following member/s of the research team:
Research Team Contact Details
Mr. Jack Freestone
Manager of AOD Research Programs (ACON) & PhD candidate at UNSW
0490 293 481
Associate Professor, HIV and Epidemiology and Prevention Program
02 9385 0939
This study is being delivered in partnership by ACON, the Kirby Institute, Positive Live NSW, NADA, St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney and Sydney Sexual Health Centre.