Dr Kerryn Drysdale is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Social Research in Health, located within UNSW Arts and Social Sciences. Her disciplinary background is in gender studies, queer theory and cultural studies, with a particular focus on LGBTIQ social scenes, identities and practices. Kerryn's current area of research lies at the intersection of social inquiry and public health, particularly in the experiences and expressions of health and wellbeing among same-sex attracted and sex/gender diverse people, people who use drugs, and people living with or affected by HIV and/or viral hepatitis.
Podcasts as resources: collaborative research translation concerning gay and bisexual men who use crystal for sex
Effective research translation requires engagement with target audiences in ways that are authentic and resonant, and which are capable of attracting attention in the crowded space of competing public health priorities. Completing at the end of 2019, the Crystal, Pleasures and Sex between Men was a NHMRC- and Western Australian Health Department-funded project that examined gay and bisexual men’s crystal methamphetamine use for sex. Findings revealed that not all gay and bisexual men saw their crystal use as requiring intervention, with many men developing skillful and creative methods to maximise pleasure and reduce risk. However, those men who reported experiences of dependent use thought that they had fewer resources to manage their use effectively. This suggested to us that knowledge about harm reduction and health promotion was uneven within the various networks in which men participated - and this unevenness extended to those in the communities who knew and supported men using crystal for sex. Questions remained at the completion of the project on how best to deliver appropriate resources to men who were not in contact with existing services.
In response to findings from the project, researchers and community partners collaborated to produce an innovative series of podcasts aimed at those who needed information about crystal methamphetamine. Crystal Clear: Negotiating pleasures and risks in sex on crystal was the result of this collaboration: a multi-platform opportunity to disseminate health promotion and harm reduction strategies through personal stories that focused on people’s experiences. The podcasts presented findings from the project and asked people with various experiences and expertise in these areas to comment. Each podcast was targeted at a different audience: (1) GBM who may be newly exposed to or currently using crystal methamphetamine; (2) friends and partners who provide peer support to GBM who are using the drug for sex; and (3) health care professionals who work with men about drug-enhanced sexual activity.
In this presentation, we discuss the process undertaken to produce these podcasts, including working with community partners to identify service gaps and agree on topics, content and messaging. In highlighting the benefits—and challenges—of producing podcasts as a resource, we argue that podcasts are a creative way to draw on research findings to enable different audiences to use those findings in their own practice. In this way, we draw on the strengths of community, health services and research to focus attention on the issues that were deemed most relevant.