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Background: Childhood sexual abuse (CSA) remains a critical public health issue among black and Latino men who have sex with men (MSM), as it is associated with multiple negative outcomes including substance misuse, poor mental health, revictimization, and high-risk sexual behavior. Most CSA research with MSM relies on quantitative assessment that often precludes consideration of cultural variations in how formative sexual experiences are understood and is based on inconsistent or overly restrictive definitions of abuse, and therefore may fail to detect certain abusive experiences (eg, those involving female perpetrators), which can have harmful health consequences if they remain unrecognized.

Objective: The objective of this study is to overcome existing limitations in the literature by drawing on perspectives of black and Latino MSM and men who have sex with men and women (MSMW), as well as relevant service providers to better understand the role of, and the need to include, sexual abuse histories (eg, CSA) in treatment and counseling settings, with the long-term goal of improving assessment and health outcomes.

Methods: We will conduct mixed-methods interviews, framed by an intersectionality approach, with 80 black and Latino men (40 MSM and 40 MSMW) in New York City (NYC), exploring appraisals of their formative sexual experiences, including those described as consensual but meeting criteria for CSA. We will also interview 30 local service providers representing substance abuse treatment, mental health care, and HIV prevention and outreach.

Results: The study was launched in May 2017.

Conclusions: This formative research will inform testable approaches to assessing and incorporating sexual abuse history into substance abuse treatment and other health and mental health services used by men with such histories.

Original Citation

Downing, M.J., Brown, D., Steen, J., & Benoit, E. (2018). Understanding the Impact of Childhood Sexual Abuse on Men’s Risk Behavior: Protocol for a Mixed-Methods Study. JMIR Research Protocols 7(2), e62.


©Martin J Downing Jr, Dominique Brown, Jeffrey Steen, Ellen Benoit. Originally published in JMIR Research Protocols (, 26.02.2018.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR Research Protocols, is properly cited.

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