From February 2017, information about the work of the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow is available and updated on the University of Glasgow website.

Gay Community, Social Relationships, and Sexual Health

This qualitative PhD aimed to explore how links to communities and social networks, particularly gay communities, relate to awareness of sexual health, specifically HIV prevention and safe sex. The project explored young (18-29) gay and bisexual men’s ‘personal communities’, and the role those within them (e.g. friends, family, partners and colleagues) play in shaping men’s safer-sex strategies.

Early, successful HIV prevention among gay men has been credited to the collective response of gay communities and their widespread adoption of safer sex behaviours. Increases in sexual risk and HIV incidence has led to calls for a renewed community response. However, recent research has highlighted the changing role of the ‘gay community’ in HIV prevention, questioning the likelihood and potential of such a response. Gaining greater insight into men’s personal and social relationships - their ‘personal communities’ - and how these may influence how they think about sex, and sexual health is important for the design and development of future interventions to reduce HIV transmission.

Current Research

Nicola Boydell-Wright started her studentship in September 2010 and completed the MSc in Social Research at the University of Glasgow, graduating in 2011. Her dissertation explored gay and bisexual men’s use of the gay scene (bars, clubs, saunas etc) in Edinburgh and Glasgow. The aim of the research was to get a better understanding of how being out on the scene relates to identifying as a gay or bisexual man, and if/why different spaces and places are important to people who spend time on the scene. Since completing her MSc Nicola has been building further links with organisations working with gay and bisexual men in Scotland, and has completed interviews with young men (18-29) from across Scotland, which form the main body of the PhD research. Nicola has been writing up the findings of the research, and papers from the study will be available in 2015.



Boydell N, Fergie GM, McDaid L, Hilton S. Avoiding pitfalls and realising opportunities: reflecting on issues of sampling and recruitment for online focus groups. International Journal of Qualitative Methods 2014;13:206-223

open access  


Boydell-Wright N. 'On Scene’- a qualitative study exploring gay ‘scene’ and ‘scene space' [MSc], MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow 2011.