Using Relationship Timelines in a Qualitative Longitudinal Study Examining Emotions and Sexual Risk among Men Who Have Sex with Men
Tamar Goldenberg, Emory University
When qualitative methods are used to examine sensitive topics, novel and accessible research methods are required. We conducted an innovative, 10-week, three-phase, longitudinal qualitative study with gay and bisexual men (n=25). During a Baseline in-depth interview (IDI), participants created a visual timeline using labeled stickers to retrospectively examine their dating/sexual histories. Participants then completed three web-based quantitative personal relationship diaries, tracking sexual experiences during follow-up. These data were extracted and discussed in a Debrief IDI. There was 100% retention, indicating high acceptability and feasibility. The iterative data collection methods provided both broad and detailed data; Baseline IDIs described an overview of dating patterns, while the Debrief IDI captured details of daily sexual activities. Visual timelines offered a systematic yet flexible participatory process in both IDIs, which prompted discussion and deeper reflections. Results suggest data depth can be improved through multiphase data collection that incorporates participatory visual tools.