No global positioning system (GPS) technology study has been conducted among a sample of young gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (YMSM). As such, the purpose of this study was to evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of using GPS methods to understand the spatial context of substance use and sexual risk behaviors among a sample of YMSM in New York City, a high-risk population.
Data came from a subsample of the ongoing P18 Cohort Study (n = 75). GPS feasibility and acceptability among participants was measured with: 1) a pre- and post-survey and 2) adherence to the GPS protocol which included returning the GPS device, self-report of charging and carrying the GPS device as well as objective data analyzed from the GPS devices. Analyses of the feasibility surveys were treated as repeated measures as each participant had a pre- and post-feasibility survey. When comparing the similar GPS survey items asked at baseline and at follow-up, we present percentages and associated p-values based on chi-square statistics.
Participants reported high ratings of pre-GPS acceptability, ease of use, and low levels of wear-related concerns in addition to few concerns related to safety, loss, or appearance, which were maintained after baseline GPS feasibility data collection. The GPS return rate was 100%. Most participants charged and carried the GPS device on most days. Of the total of 75 participants with GPS data, 75 (100%) have at least one hour of GPS data for one day and 63 (84%) had at least one hour on all 7 days.
Results from this pilot study demonstrate that utilizing GPS methods among YMSM is feasible and acceptable. GPS devices may be used in spatial epidemiology research in YMSM populations to understand place-based determinants of health such as substance use and sexual risk behaviors.