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Risky business or not? FIFOs, sexual risk taking and the Australian mining industry
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Catherine O'Mullan, Joseph Debattista, Matthew Browne
Issue addressed: The fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) and drive-in, drive-out (DIDO) models of mining in Australia have led to concerns about adverse health and psychosocial impacts. Despite speculation that increased levels of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in Australia, including HIV, are associated with FIFO/DIDO work, we know little about sexual risk-taking behaviours in mining populations. This study explores differences in sexual risk taking and perceptions of risk between FIFO/DIDO miners and residential miners. Methods: A cross-sectional survey was administered to a sample (n = 444) of male miners working in Queensland, Australia. The self-completed survey contained 49 questions relating to knowledge, attitudes and behaviour and included demographic information and specific items related to sex and relationships. Results: FIFO/DIDO status was not associated with any differential sexual risk-taking behaviours, except for an increased probability of reporting ‘ever being diagnosed with an STI’; 10.8% of FIFO/DIDO respondents versus 3.6% of others (x2 (1) = 4.43,P = 0.35). Conclusions: Our results appear to counter anecdotal evidence that FIFO/DIDO miners engage in higher sexual risk behaviours when compared with residential miners. So what? Anecdotal evidence linking the rise of sexually transmitted infections with the FIFO/DIDO mining workforce could drive costly and unnecessary approaches to prevention. Further research, surveillance and monitoring are required to inform health promotion interventions.