Did mpox knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs affect intended behaviour in the general population and men who are gay, bisexual, and who have sex with men? An online cross-sectional survey in the UK

Louise E. Smith, Henry W. W. Potts, Julii Brainard, Tom May, Isabel Oliver, Richard Amlôt, Lucy Yardley, G. James Rubin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: To investigate rates of mpox beliefs, knowledge, and intended behaviours in the general population and in gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men (GBMSM), and factors associated with intended behaviours. To test the impact of motivational messages (vs a factual control) on intended behaviours.  
Design: Cross-sectional online survey including a nested randomised controlled trial.  

Setting: Data collected 5 September to 6 October 2022.  
Participants: Participants were aged 18 years and over and lived in the UK (general population). In addition, GBMSM were male, and gay, bisexual or had sex with men. The general population sample was recruited through a market research company. GBMSM were recruited through a market research company, the dating app Grindr, and targeted adverts on Meta (Facebook and Instagram).  
Main outcome measures: Intention to self-isolate, seek medical help, stop all sexual contact, share details of recent sexual contacts, and accept vaccination.  

Results: Socio-demographic characteristics differed by sample. There was no effect of very brief motivational messaging on behavioural intentions. Respondents from Grindr and Meta were more likely to intend to seek help immediately, completely stop sexual behaviour and be vaccinated or intend to be vaccinated, but being less likely to intend to self-isolate (ps<0.001). In the general population sample, intending to carry out protective behaviours was generally associated with being female, older, having less financial hardship, greater worry, higher perceived risk to others, and higher perceived susceptibility to and severity of mpox (ps<0.001). There were fewer associations with behaviours in the Grindr sample, possibly due to reduced power.  

Conclusions: GBMSM were more likely to intend to enact protective behaviours, except for self-isolation. This may reflect targeted public health efforts and engagement with this group. Associations with socio-economic factors suggests that providing financial support may encourage people to engage with protective behaviours.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere070882
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 12 Oct 2023


  • public health
  • sexual medicine

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