Exploring emotional competency among men who have sex with men


  • D. Strongylou
  • P. Flowers
  • L. Elliott
  • L. McDaid
  • Y. Kerr
  • N. Coia
  • J. Frankis


Background: Emotional dysregulation has been implicitly linked with risky sexual behaviour in some men who have sex with men (MSM). By adopting an assets-based approach to emotions, this study examines emotional competency (EC) in MSM and explores the relationship between EC and a range of sexual and socio-demographic variables. Methods: A cross-sectional online survey design recruited 2364 MSM in the UK (average age M=39.09, SD=13.5) via sociosexual media websites and smartphone apps. Socio-demographic and sexual behavioural data were collected alongside the TEIQue-SF questionnaire which assessed their EC. Univariate analyses were performed to identify any relationships between EC and sociodemographic characteristics and sexual behaviours. Findings: MSM overall reported significantly lower EC (TEIQue-SF M=3.26, SD=0.88) than the general population (M=4.95, SD=0.61) (t=49.3, p< 0.001). EC was higher for younger, single and lower educated participants, and men who never accessed the commercial gay scene. Men who reported condomless anal intercourse (CAI) in the last year, a key measure of high-risk sex, only scored significantly higher (t(2344)=-2.169, p=0.03) for the self-control facet of EC (M=21.6,SD=6.18) than men who reported no CAI (M=21,SD=6.14). However, EC was significantly lower for MSM who were more sexually active, participated in ‘chemsex’ parties, and were willing to stop using condoms in the heat of the moment. Discussion: This is the first study to link EC with risky sexual behaviour in MSM. We present a sexual behaviour change model which includes EC, and outline a novel intervention that will help MSM avoid risky sexual behaviours by increasing their EC skills.





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