Rural-urban differences in monkeypox behaviors and attitudes among men who have sex with men in the United States. Academic Article uri icon


  • PURPOSE: An outbreak of the monkeypox virus has been documented in the United States with most cases occurring among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM). As monkeypox cases increase among relatively rural states, current public health messaging may not resonate with rural at-risk populations. Given this, there is a need to assess potential rural-urban differences in monkeypox behaviors and attitudes among MSM. METHODS: A total of 582 eligible MSM completed an online cross-sectional survey between August 6 and 15, 2022. Participants answered questions about their demographics, sexual behaviors, monkeypox testing and vaccination behaviors, monkeypox media consumption and attitudes, and their intention and attitudes found in the Health Belief Model of getting the monkeypox vaccine. Rural-urban differences in behaviors and attitudes were assessed with a chi-square test of independence. Differences in intention to get vaccinated and Health Belief Model factors were assessed with a Mann-Whitney U test. FINDINGS: Rural MSM, in comparison to their urban counterparts, were found to be less likely to report modifying their behaviors to decrease monkeypox exposure, being susceptible to monkeypox, or perceiving severe consequences acquiring monkeypox. Similarly, rural MSM had a lower intention to get vaccinated for monkeypox. CONCLUSIONS: As vaccination uptake among rural populations for vaccine-preventable diseases remains suboptimal, results from this novel study can inform the development of monkeypox prevention, testing, and vaccination messaging campaigns geared toward rural MSM and other at-risk populations. It will be important to ensure that monkeypox prevention, testing, and vaccination interventions are available and accessible in rural areas.

published proceedings

  • J Rural Health

altmetric score

  • 48.1

author list (cited authors)

  • Owens, C., & Hubach, R. D.

citation count

  • 2

complete list of authors

  • Owens, Christopher||Hubach, Randolph D

publication date

  • March 2023