What is it about?

There has been increasing interest in studying couples -- particularly male couples. This interest has been inspired by research indicating that many, possibly most, new HIV infections among sexual minority men are transmitted between main or primary partners. Studying couples introduces a challenge. In order to participate in research together, both partners in a relationship have to coordinate their effort in some way. Both of them have to complete study tasks. Sometimes one partner has to tell the other about the study or invite them to participate. This kind of coordination may be easier for couples who have relatively better functioning. This study, which examined data from a sample of sexual minority men recruited in New York City indeed found that those men who were able to successfully recruit their partner to participate with them in an online research study scored significantly higher on relationship satisfaction.

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Why is it important?

Relationship functioning is also associated with substance use and sexual risk taking. The couples at greatest risk for problematic substance use and HIV infection are those with relatively worse relationship functioning. Ironically, these same couples may have the hardest time participating in dyadic research on substance use and sexual health. Researchers may need to consider alternatives to dyadic participation to decrease burden and facilitate the participation of people in lower-functioning relationships. Dyadic studies that want to optimize their reach to couples with deficits in relationship functioning should be designed to minimize barriers to enrollment and decrease demands on partners to coordinate their effort in participation.

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This page is a summary of: Correlates of Individual Versus Joint Participation in Online Survey Research with Same-Sex Male Couples, AIDS and Behavior, November 2014, Springer Science + Business Media, DOI: 10.1007/s10461-014-0962-1.
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