A qualitative examination of affect and ideology within mass media interventions to increase HIV testing with gay men garnered from a systematic review

Darren Langdridge, Paul Flowers, Julie Riddell, Nicola Boydell, Gemma Teal, Nicky Coia, Lisa McDaid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


Increasing appropriate HIV testing among men who have sex with men (MSM) is crucial to HIV prevention. Mass media interventions are effective in promoting testing, but to date, there has been little examination of their active content.

We conducted a qualitative analysis of intervention materials (n = 69) derived from a systematic review of mass media interventions designed to improve testing with MSM.

Visual data were analysed for their affective and ideological content using a novel method drawing on concepts from semiotics (i.e., broadly speaking, the analysis of signs).

Whilst affect was not explicitly theorized or examined in any of the studies, there are clearly identifiable affective elements implicitly at play in these interventions. Four thematic categories of affect/ideology were identified including (1) sexual desire and the ‘pornographication’ of the gay/bisexual male subject; (2) narratives of romance and love; (3) fear, threat, and regret; and (4) ‘flattened’ affect.

This is the first study to examine and detail the affective and ideological aspects of intervention content in this field. Using analytic techniques such as those reported here, in addition to approaches that focus on the manner in which intervention content address more proximal determinants of behaviour, can provide a rich and potentially more useful evidence base to assist with future interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages29
JournalBritish Journal of Health Psychology
Early online date31 Jul 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 31 Jul 2020


  • HIV testing
  • men who have sex with men
  • behaviour change techniques
  • intervention content
  • affect

Cite this