Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Public Health

Advisor's Name

H. Virginia McCoy

Advisor's Title

Committee Chair

Advisor's Name

Mariana Baum

Advisor's Name

Jessy Devieux

Advisor's Name

William W. Darrow

Keywords

HIV/AIDS, Rural, MSM, Health Promotion

Date of Defense

3-29-2012

Abstract

As HIV/AIDS continues to disproportionately impact men who have sex with men (MSM) (CDC, 2010a), effective and timely prevention strategies for this population must be developed. Specifically, evidence-based interventions that can be easily adapted and have proven effectiveness are needed. Hence, the purpose of the current study was to assess the impact of the Mpowerment Project (Hayes, Rebchook, & Kegeles, 2003), a community level HIV prevention program originally designed for young urban gay men, when adapted for rural gay men. The Mpowerment Project is recognized as evidence- based intervention by the CDC (CDC, 2009b). The current study is an extension of this research, assessing Mpowerment model fidelity and the behavioral and attitudinal changes that occurred among participants. Data were collected from participants in a rural area of southeast Idaho from 2002-2004. Data were collected prior to M-Group participation and at a three months follow-up. The 66 individuals completing the M-Group pre and posttest assessment also attended a minimum of three study events and a maximum of 226 events.

Results revealed no significant changes in attitudinal variables and all but one behavioral variable among Rural Mpowerment (R-MP) participants. The one significant behavior change was an increase in reported safer sex discussion among friends, indicating a possible change in the social norm regarding safer sex. Results also indicate that program fidelity was maintained and the Mpowerment Project is adaptable to rural areas. However, there was no indication of attitudinal changes in participants of this study. There were no changes in behavioral variables aside from discussion about safer sex with friends increasing. The lack of evidence-based interventions for rural gay men highlights the need for further research on the community impact of the Mpowerment Project on rural participants.

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