Date of Completion

Summer 8-31-2023

Thesis Advisor(s)

Cheryl Ordway Eckert

Honors Major

Allied Health Sciences



Chemsex (the use of drugs by men who have sex with men (MSM) to enhance the sexual experience) is being identified as an increasingly common phenomenon. In Malaysia, where drug use and homosexuality are criminalized, chemsex fosters multiple and simultaneous risk-taking behaviors that endanger MSM's well-being and safety. Exacerbating these risks is the intolerant Malaysian sociopolitical environment that foregoes support and victimizes MSM. Malaysian MSM is thus a hidden and at-risk population.


We probed Malaysian MSM's thoughts and opinions to guide the development of a potential chemsex mHealth intervention. This hypothetical app-based intervention could serve as a harm-reduction measure to enhance the welfare of Malaysian MSM.


We conducted six focus group discussions with 22 Malaysian MSM who partook in chemsex. Two trained facilitators questioned MSM about their experiences, unmet needs, and opinions regarding the design of a chemsex app. Each discussion was recorded, transcribed, and then thematically analyzed using an inductive approach.


Malaysian MSM identified relevant experiences and unmet needs that the app could reconcile. They also identified app features that they believed could facilitate safer chemsex practices, such as a resource center, real-time expert consultation, emergency assistance, and a drug log, among other features. They also provided important information regarding ethical considerations to make the app acceptable and accessible.


An app-based harm-reduction intervention could improve the health and safety of Malaysian MSM who partake in chemsex. Malaysian MSM identified app features and ethical considerations to guide the development of an effective, acceptable, and accessible app. This app could reach and provide support for an underrepresented and disadvantaged population.