Real Risks of the Online World: Association of Online Dating Addiction with Mental and Sexual Health Outcomes in Sexual Minorities

Online dating applications have recently gained increasing popularity in both the heterosexual population and amongst sexual minorities. In a recent report, nearly 75% of men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM) reported to having met a sexual partner using dating apps. In Switzerland, 62,000 MSM are estimated to use online dating apps.

There are concerns about the effect of these dating apps on the physical and mental health of their users. Recent studies have shown that MSM using online dating apps appear more likely to engage in high risk sexual behaviour, thereby increasing their risk of contracting HIV and other STIs. App usage has also been found to have negative effects on mental health (e.g. elevated levels of anxiety or depression), which is problematic since sexual risk-taking increases with depression. Determining when dating app usage becomes detrimental, however, is challenging. To date, a variety of app addiction scales have been developed to assess how app usage patterns may affect health, but none of these scales directly address online dating addiction (ODA).

Our project will be the first to provide insights into the prevalence of ODA in the MSM population. Analysing the association of ODA with sexual and mental health outcomes may identify novel drivers of the current HIV/STI epidemic in Switzerland; thus providing critical information to shape future prevention measures. Finally, considering that more than 41 million people currently use dating apps in Europe, our findings may provide crucial insights about a phenomenon involving populations beyond sexual minorities.

This is a sub-study of the SwissPrEPared program and nested study.

 

For more information and to participate please visit the project page.