Harmonizing surveillance and prevention research: the European MSM Internet Survey (EMIS)

Published: August 31, 2010

Harmonizing surveillance and prevention research: the European MSM Internet Survey (EMIS)

A.J. Schmidt1, S. Benvenuti2, M. Breveglieri2, C. Folch3, F. Hickson4, H.J. Hospers5, U. Marcus1, M. Mirandola2, D. Reid4, P. Weatherburn4, the EMIS Consortium

1Robert Koch Institute, Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Berlin, Germany, 2Regional Centre for Health Promotion, ULSS 20 – Veneto Region, Verona, Italy, 3Centre for Epidemiological Studies on HIV/AIDS in Catalonia (CEEISCAT), Barcelona, Spain, 4University of Portsmouth, Sigma Research, London, United Kingdom, 5Maastricht University, University College, Maastricht, Netherlands

Issues: Surveys of sexual behaviour and prevention needs among men who have sex with men (MSM) have mainly been conducted on national levels. Due to different sampling methods (esp. Internet-based vs. venue-based), and because of similar, but not identical questions, a harmonisation of indicators is needed to allow reporting of comparable data to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). In the last decade, MSM dating websites have been shown to be (cost-) effective and valid means for recruitment of respondents, and are thus increasingly used for surveying MSM in particular.
Description: The European MSM Internet Survey (EMIS) is a joint project of academic, governmental, and non-governmental partners from 31 countries in Europe (EU and neighbouring countries) to simultaneously run an online questionnaire in 26 different languages, collecting self-reported data from MSM across Europe. Items cover risk and precautionary behaviours, prevention needs, and use of clinical interventions with respect to HIV and other sexually transmissible infections. EMIS is co-funded by a grant of the European Union.
Lessons learned: Scientists who already have experience of Internet-based surveys for MSM, scientists who so far only have experience with print questionnaires, and activists from community-based NGOs have jointly prepared and pre-tested a pan-European questionnaire, scheduled to be launched in May 2010.
Next steps: Data collection is ongoing. EMIS results will inform the planning of prevention interventions for MSM by identifying prevention needs commonly unmet across MSM (priority aims), and subgroups of MSM who have many prevention needs poorly met (priority target groups).

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