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Appropriate quantitative and qualitative research tools will be developed to assess problems and needs related to sexual health of PLWH. The research can be separated into different data assessment steps.
Data assessment step 1 : Elicitation research using focus groups
In order to assess accurately the research topic, we decided to start with an elicitation research phase adopting qualitative research methods such as focus groups. Conducting focus groups is a qualitative data assessment technique that allows to produce a lot of information quickly and at less cost than individual interviews. It is seen as useful for identifying and exploring bliefs, attitudes, opinions, and behaviours (1).
Using focus group methodology, issues relevant to SRH needs of PLWH and to prevention for positives can be addressed in various settings and with various target groups, such as homosexual men, heterosexual men, heterosexual women and members of minority groups. Although we focus primarly on doing focusgroups with health care workers (HCW). Our aim is to carry out focus groups at tree different groups of HCW (physicians, nurses, social workers). Concerns in terms of both recruiting issues as well as collecting unbiased information from PLWH directly have been considerable. In addition, our objective for the qualitative research is not so much to gain in-depth understanding itself, but set the research priorities for designing the quantitative instrument. Evidence elicitated by collecting information from health care workers will be usefull in doing so. Partners who are in a position to access PLWH directly and who are capable of doing additional qualitative research are encouraged to do so.
A focus group guideline will be developed in English, containing a general and more specific questions. Focus group sessions will have to be audiotaped and transcribed, to enable subsequent analytic induction and comparative analysis.
(1) Stimson GV, Donoghoe MC, Fitch C, Rhodes T (2001). Rapid Assessment and Response Technical Guide. World Health Organization: Department of Child and Adolescent Health Development and Department of HIV/Aids, Geneva
Data assessment step 2: Compiling evidence in general populations of PLWH
using quantitative data collection
Based on the results of the focus groups a self-reported questionnaire will be developed to assess data cross-sectionally. Using this questionnaire, a survey will be carried out to assess the problems and needs related to SRH among PLWH.
Data obtained will reflect a more general picture of sexual risk behaviours, its determinants, as well as feasible ways of reducing them in the context of professional HIV-care and support.
Questionnaires will be drafted in English, translated by the participating teams, and re-translated into English in order to assure the qualities of the translation and achieve comparable data throughout the participating countries.
This instrument will be piloted in a sample of HIV+ patients, adapted on the basis of the pilot results and subsequently used within the general population of PLWH being followed at the various HIV-treatment centres represented in the EUROSUPPORT network.
After having obtained ethical approval on the organisational level and oral informed consent on the individual level, patients will receive an anonymous, self-reported questionnaire from their treating physician. They will be asked to fill it in and send it back to the co-ordinating centre.
Data will be entered and analysed centrally by the coordinating centre. The data-base will be made available to all interested study group participants upon request and after approval of the ES V study group.
The following data-analysis procedures will be performed:
Data assessment step 3 : Assessing models of good practice and developing
On the basis of these needs assessments, client-centered criteria for assessing SRH-services targeting PLWH and their partners will be developed. Using these criteria, we aim at identifying existing models of good practice in Europe in an integrated field of SRH for PLWH and to develop guidelines and policy recommendations built on the assessed evidence-based practices.
The collected information will be disseminated throughout Europe, i.e. beyond the project group, to maximize the transfer of knowledge between member states and to create new learning opportunities.
The project links evidence based knowledge (i.e. assessing the SRH-needs and problems of PLWH in a cross-sectional design) with policy development activities (i.e. developing criteria; collecting models of good practice; issuing guidelines and recommendations). The research builds on the methodology successfully used in previous EUROSUPPORT projects from 1996 - 2004.