AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 20, Issue 9, pp 1851–1862 | Cite as

A Randomized Control Trial for Evaluating Efficacies of Two Online Cognitive Interventions With and Without Fear-Appeal Imagery Approaches in Preventing Unprotected Anal Sex Among Chinese Men Who Have Sex with Men

  • Joseph T. F. LauEmail author
  • Annisa L. Lee
  • Wai S. Tse
  • Phoenix K. H. Mo
  • Francois Fong
  • Zixin Wang
  • Linda D. Cameron
  • Vivian Sheer
Original Paper


Fear appeal approach has been used in health promotion, but its effectiveness has been mixed. It has not been well applied to HIV prevention among men who have sex with men (MSM). The present study developed and evaluated the relative efficacy of three online interventions (SC: STD-related cognitive approach, SCFI: STD-related cognitive plus fear appeal imagery approach, Control: HIV-related information based approach) in reducing prevalence of unprotected anal intercourse (UAI) among 396 MSM using a randomized controlled trial design. Participants’ levels of fear-related emotions immediately after watching the assigned intervention materials were also assessed. Participants were evaluated at baseline and 3 months after the intervention. Results showed that participants in the SCFI scored significantly higher in the instrument assessing fear after the watching the intervention materials. However, no statistically significant differences were found across the three groups in terms of UAI at Month 3. Some significant within-group reductions in some measures of UAI were found in three groups. Further studies are warranted to test the role of fear appeal in HIV prevention.


HIV Men who have sex with men Fear appeal Condom use Unprotected sexual intercourse 



The research team would like to thank all participants that took part in the study. Thanks are extended to all others who had helped in the entire data collection period. The study was supported by the Research Fund for the Control of Infectious Diseases, Food and Health Bureau, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (Project Ref.: #10090892).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph T. F. Lau
    • 1
    Email author
  • Annisa L. Lee
    • 2
  • Wai S. Tse
    • 3
  • Phoenix K. H. Mo
    • 1
  • Francois Fong
    • 4
  • Zixin Wang
    • 1
  • Linda D. Cameron
    • 5
    • 6
  • Vivian Sheer
    • 7
  1. 1.School of Public Health and Primary CareThe Chinese University of Hong KongHong Kong SARChina
  2. 2.School of Journalism and CommunicationThe Chinese University of Hong KongHong Kong SARChina
  3. 3.Department of Educational PsychologyThe Chinese University of Hong KongHong Kong SARChina
  4. 4.Neo Health CareHong Kong SARChina
  5. 5.Psychological SciencesUniversity of CaliforniaMercedUSA
  6. 6.University of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  7. 7.Department of Communication StudiesHong Kong Baptist UniversityHong Kong SARChina

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