Using Geosocial Networking Apps to Understand the Spatial Distribution of Gay and Bisexual Men: Pilot Study

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Scholarly level: 
Graduate student (PhD)
Final version published as: 

Card KG, Gibbs J, Lachowsky NJ, Hawkins BW, Compton M, Edward J, Salway T, Gislason MK, Hogg RS  Using Geosocial Networking Apps to Understand the Spatial Distribution of Gay and Bisexual Men: Pilot Study  JMIR Public Health Surveill 2018;4(3):e61  DOI: 10.2196/publichealth.8931

Date created: 
2018-08-08
Keywords: 
Service access
Geosocial networking apps
Gay and bisexual men
Spatial distribution
Gay neighborhoods
Abstract: 

Background: While services tailored for gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (gbMSM) may provide support for this vulnerable population, planning access to these services can be difficult due to the unknown spatial distribution of gbMSM outside of gay-centered neighborhoods. This is particularly true since the emergence of geosocial networking apps, which have become a widely used venue for meeting sexual partners.

Objective: The goal of our research was to estimate the spatial density of app users across Metro Vancouver and identify the independent and adjusted neighborhood-level factors that predict app user density.

Methods: This pilot study used a popular geosocial networking app to estimate the spatial density of app users across rural and urban Metro Vancouver. Multiple Poisson regression models were then constructed to model the relationship between app user density and areal population-weighted neighbourhood-level factors from the 2016 Canadian Census and National Household Survey.

Results: A total of 2021 app user profiles were counted within 1 mile of 263 sampling locations. In a multivariate model controlling for time of day, app user density was associated with several dissemination area–level characteristics, including population density (per 100; incidence rate ratio [IRR] 1.03, 95% CI 1.02-1.04), average household size (IRR 0.26, 95% CI 0.11-0.62), average age of males (IRR 0.93, 95% CI 0.88-0.98), median income of males (IRR 0.96, 95% CI 0.92-0.99), proportion of males who were not married (IRR 1.08, 95% CI 1.02-1.13), proportion of males with a postsecondary education (IRR 1.06, 95% CI 1.03-1.10), proportion of males who are immigrants (IRR 1.04, 95% CI 1.004-1.07), and proportion of males living below the low-income cutoff level (IRR 0.93, 95% CI 0.89-0.98).

Conclusions: This pilot study demonstrates how the combination of geosocial networking apps and administrative datasets might help care providers, planners, and community leaders target online and offline interventions for gbMSM who use apps.

Language: 
English
Document type: 
Article
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