Brief report: Determinants of potential sexual activity reduction in the face of the Monkeypox epidemic


Background The current mpox epidemic is most prevalent among men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM). Vaccination programs are being rolled-out to curb the epidemic. Behavioural measures have been called for as well, for example, by the WHO and national public health authorities to reduce the number of sexual partners and sexual activity. We investigated intentions and determinants among Dutch MSM to follow such behavioural measures.

Methods Early in July 2022, in the context of a dynamic ongoing epidemic, 394 MSM answered an online questionnaire investigating concepts such as perceived mpox risk, vaccination and behavioural change intentions and collecting socio-demographic and sexual behaviour information.

Results The overall intentions to reduce number of partners and sexual activity were high, but only a minority had developed definite intentions. Determinant analysis revealed that dating/open relationship status was a positive predictor; vaccination intentions did not predict sexual behaviour change; those not on PrEP were more likely to change their sexual behaviour. Mpox infection concern was the main predictor for behaviour change intentions.

Conclusions Our results show that behavioural measures to avoid an mpox infection are present in majority of participants in our survey, but high intentions are held by a minority. Taking the historic complexity of behavioural change pleas among MSM into account sensitive, additional public health measures are necessary to reach and to inform MSM about potential benefits of sexual behaviour change.

International Journal of Behavioral Medicine
Thomas Gültzow
Thomas Gültzow
Assistant Professor Societal Transition & Behaviour Change

I am a passionate researcher in the field of behaviour and decision making, specialising in informed decision making, behaviour change, and the influence of digital communication and interventions.