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Do Diary Studies Cause Behavior Change? An Examination of Reactivity in Sexual Risk and Substance Use in Young Men Who Have Sex with Men

Abstract

Behavioral diaries are frequently used for observing sexual and substance use behaviors, but participating in diary studies may cause behavior change. This study examined change in sexual and substance use behaviors among young men who have sex with men (YMSM) in a two-month diary study compared to control. An analytic sample of 324 YMSM was randomized to receive daily diaries, weekly diaries, or no diaries (control) for 2 months. Half of the diary participants were randomized to receive automated weekly feedback. Between-subjects analyses found no evidence of change in sexual or substance use behaviors from baseline to 2-month follow-up when comparing the diary conditions to control. Within-persons growth mixture models of all diary data showed significant decreases in condomless anal sex (CAS) and illicit drug use. Weekly automated feedback had no effect on behavior change. Findings provide evidence of change in CAS and illicit drug use amongst diary participants.

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Acknowledgements

This project was funded by a Grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (R03DA035704; PI: Newcomb). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Funding

This study was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (R03DA035704).

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Correspondence to Michael E. Newcomb.

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The authors have no known conflicts of interest to disclose.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all participants included in the study.

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Newcomb, M.E., Swann, G., Mohr, D. et al. Do Diary Studies Cause Behavior Change? An Examination of Reactivity in Sexual Risk and Substance Use in Young Men Who Have Sex with Men. AIDS Behav 22, 2284–2295 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10461-018-2027-3

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10461-018-2027-3

Keywords

  • HIV/AIDS
  • Young men who have sex with men
  • Behavioral diaries
  • Self-monitoring
  • Substance use