Interview: Quantitative, Qualitative or Versatile


This is where we drag leaders in gay men's health into our Proust spotlight. Get to know your colleagues as they share their work, their passion and a little of their busy lives.

Interview with Trevor Hart

Dr. Trevor A. Hart, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology at Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario.

1. What is your place of birth?

Detroit, Michigan

2. How did you get involved in gay men's health?

I was working as a counsellor in a mental health service at the local LGBT Youth Centre, and realized that a lot of the youth there were suffering from anxiety, depression, and other forms of stress due to homophobia and other forms of oppression.  I wanted to do something about it that could integrate good service provision with research evidence based practice. 

3. Quantitative, qualitative or versatile?

Primarily quantitative, but am engaged in a number of qualitative studies and mixed methods studies as well. Quantitative research has the advantage of being able to see the relationships and directions of relationships among variables in large samples, but qualitative research often gives a lot of depth and provides necessary stories with which people can connect.

4. What social determinant of health impacts gay men the most, do you think?

Some of our data suggest that anti-gay bullying and harassment experiences have a very negative effect on gay men’s mental health, and possibly on their sexual health as well.  However, despite the added stressors we experience as gay and bi men, I think we also need to pay attention to positive social determinants of health, and that is a part of what we are examining in our current study on Gay Strengths.

5. What's something that everyone interested in gay men's health should read?

One good text is: “Unequal Opportunity: Health Disparities Affecting Gay and Bisexual Men in the United States”.  It is a text by Richard J. Wolitski, Ron Stall, and Ronald O. Valdiserri, all gay researchers who have used gay research to try to understand how to promote positive change for our communities.  Despite the U.S. focus, I think the text is 95% relevant to our experiences in Canada. 

6. Do you have a favourite gay bar moment?

Probably dancing until the late hours at Blu, a late-night club in Atlanta, with my friends when I lived there.

7. If you could poll 10,000 gay men, what two questions would you ask them?

It changes over time.  Right now, I’d want to know what was their biggest struggle in life, and how are they struggling to overcome it or how did they overcome it.

8. What is the secret to a perfect relationship?

I am not sure that perfect is the goal.  From the psychological data, we know that good relationships involve a lot of high quality communication, and a sense that each partner gives to the relationship so much that the relationship can tolerate “bad days”. 

9. How would you describe your current work?

The role of my work is to collaborate with community members and other researchers to understand more about the experiences of gay men, and to create sex-positive, gay-positive programs that are attractive to men and that lead to increased mental and sexual health and well-being.

10. What's the last piece of writing you did on gay health?

Hart, T. A., Moskowitz, D., Cox, C., Li, X., Ostrow, D. G., Stall, R. D., . . . & Plankey, M. (2012). The cumulative effects of medication use, drug use, and smoking on erectile dysfunction among men who have sex with men. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 9, 1106-1113. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2011.02648.x

Millett, G. A, Peterson, J. L., Flores, S. A., Hart, T. A., Jeffries, W. L., Wilson, P. A., . . . & Remis, R. R. (2012). Comparisons of disparities and risks of HIV infection in black and other men who have sex with men in Canada, UK, and USA: a meta-analysis. Lancet, 380, 341-348. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60899-X

James, C. A., Schwartz, D. R., Roberts, K. E., Hart, T. A., Loutfy, M. R., Myers, T., & Calzavara, L. (2012). Childhood emotional abuse and psychological distress in gay and bisexual men. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment, and Trauma, 21, 851-869.

11. What gay man do you most admire?

Harvey Milk.  He was a pioneer in gay rights when there were few willing to stick their necks out for gay rights.

12. Where would you like to see gay men's health in five years?

I’d like us to move beyond understanding gay men’s health in research into creating effective programs that have a positive effect on the health of gay men broadly defined. 

 

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