Research projects

Out of the Blue: Pete & Dale

Principal researchers

Simon Ruth

Chief Executive Officer

Victorian AIDS Council


Professor John de Wit

Director, Centre for Social Research in Health

University of New South Wales


Cat Morgan




Karen Price

Director, HIV and Sexual Health



Steve Bloom




Brent Allan

Executive Officer

Living Positive Victoria



Victorian AIDS Council Inc



Co-funded with         


Award type   

Request for Tender

Project completion year       


Project brief  

OUT OF THE BLUE is a digital project that uses a single online framework to create two websites aimed at two different communities that experience stigma associated with anxiety and/or depression – one for men living with HIV and another for men who have sex with other men but are also in heterosexual relationships (commonly known as ‘gay and married men’). The framework for both websites will use three major components.

The first component will focus on self-guided learning, where users can learn more about strategies they can engage to deal with stigma associated with anxiety and/or depression. This component will also include links to direct users to further resources should they be required.

The second component offers connection through online spaces to chat with like-minded men experiencing similar issues. These secure spaces will vary from peer-facilitated group chat sessions to discussion boards.

The third component is opt-in notification, where users can elect to receive notifications from the website through a preferred online messaging system whether an app, Twitter, or SMS. These notifications can let users know when new content is added to the sites, when new discussion options are available, or allow users to receive regular affirmations.

Using this three-part framework, two websites were created with unique content aimed at the two key communities of interest.

Over the course of the project (July 2016 to April 2017), there were a high number of people who visited the websites for PETE (n=6,733) and DALE (n=9,499).  However, only a small number of visits converted into online survey (baseline) completions, which measured psychological distress and mental health stigma as well as questions about demographics and risk.  Due to the low conversion rate, only data collected from DALE users is reported here.  At baseline (n=118) DALE users had comparable levels of anxiety (Mean 19.80), depression related stigma (Mean 19.20) and internalised stigma (Mean 19.28) however for all stigma measures the range for responses was high indicating that some participants had extremely high or very low levels of stigma.   All three stigma measures were statistically associated with psychological distress, suggesting that participants who reported greater levels of anxiety, depression and internalised stigma appeared to experience greater psychological distress. Internalised stigma was additionally associated with disclosure of sexual attraction to men, in that those guys who had greater levels of internalised stigma reported less disclosure to their family, friends, sexual partners, health workers, as well as work colleagues and employers.

The project had hoped to conduct follow-up surveys to evaluate any changes in the experience of stigma for men using the PETE and DALE sites; however, due to the small numbers of participants taking part in the baseline surveys, follow-up surveys could not be implemented in time for this report. Based on the results and outcomes from this project, there was a noticeably higher level of engagement on DALE compared to PETE. It is hypothesised that while men living HIV have a large amount of services available to them across Australia, same-sex attracted men living in a heterosexual relationship have little to no services or support information targeted at them.

Read the Pete and Dale summary report

Read the Pete and Dale final report

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