Project Summary

This research project is in progress. PCORI will post the research findings on this page within 90 days after the results are final.

What is the research about?

Sexual and gender minority, or SGM, men include those who identify as gay, bisexual, trans/non-binary, genderqueer, or intersex. SGM men experience higher rates of sexual violence than other men. These experiences can lead to posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD; substance misuse; depression; anxiety; or suicide. Many SGM men also experience discrimination that can increase stress. Often, SGM men don’t get mental health treatment for their trauma-related distress. 

This study compares two online counselling interventions to encourage SGM sexual abuse survivors to enroll in formal mental health treatment. They involve two different approaches to motivational interviewing, an evidence-based technique that helps people explore, get ready for, and commit to change. Both ways are led by peers who are also male trauma survivors.

Who can this research help?

Information from this study can help doctors and health clinics plan ways to encourage SGM male survivors of sexual abuse to engage in treatment.

What is the research team doing?

The research team is recruiting 344 SGM men with a history of sexual abuse and high levels of emotional distress. The team is assigning these men to one of two groups by chance.

Both groups are led by peers and meet for six weeks of online counseling. After the online counseling groups end, the research team is looking at whether people in the study have scheduled an appointment for or begun mental health treatment. The team is also following up over four months about symptoms of depression, PTSD, substance use, and quality of life.  

SGM men who have experienced trauma and distress, other trauma survivors, and experienced mental health professionals who work in this area are working with the research team to plan and conduct the study.

Research methods at a glance

Design Elements Description
Design Randomized controlled trial
Population Adult male-identifying people who identify as SGM or who have sex with men and report (1) a history of sexual abuse and (2) emotional distress with a score of 3 or higher using a 4-question symptom inventory
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Motivational interviewing with trauma-informed sexual and gender minority affirmative care

Primary: initiation of mental health treatment, experience and frequency of depressive symptoms over the past week

Secondary: symptoms of PTSD; use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs; quality of life

Timeframe 120-day follow-up for primary outcomes

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Engagement Awards Teams Ride Momentum to Research Projects
Read a feature story that highlights how three Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Awards teams clinched additional PCORI funding to channel the lessons and successes of their work into three new research projects -- which includes this study -- that answer patient-centered research questions.

Periscope Interviews with PCORI at AcademyHealth's 2019 Annual Research Meeting

Nathan Lachine, a member of MaleSurvivor and its webmaster, shares his thoughts about being a patient partner in this study. (Watch)

Joan Cook, PhD, this study's principal investigator, talks about how her work on a PCORI Engagement Award turned into an actionable research question at the center of this study. (Watch)

Project Information

Joan Cook, PhD
Yale University
Peer Online Motivational Interviewing for Sexual and Gender Minority Male Survivors

Key Dates

November 2018
March 2023

Study Registration Information


Award Type
Health Conditions Health Conditions These are the broad terms we use to categorize our funded research studies; specific diseases or conditions are included within the appropriate larger category. Note: not all of our funded projects focus on a single disease or condition; some touch on multiple diseases or conditions, research methods, or broader health system interventions. Such projects won’t be listed by a primary disease/condition and so won’t appear if you use this filter tool to find them. View Glossary
Populations Populations PCORI is interested in research that seeks to better understand how different clinical and health system options work for different people. These populations are frequently studied in our portfolio or identified as being of interest by our stakeholders. View Glossary
Intervention Strategy Intervention Strategies PCORI funds comparative clinical effectiveness research (CER) studies that compare two or more options or approaches to health care, or that compare different ways of delivering or receiving care. View Glossary
State State The state where the project originates, or where the primary institution or organization is located. View Glossary
Last updated: January 20, 2023