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NIMH Collaborative HIV/STD Prevention Trial Group [; Margaret E. Bentley, Member of Ethnography Workgroup; & ] (2007). Design and Integration of Ethnography within an International Behavior Change HIV/Sexually Transmitted Disease Prevention Trial. AIDS, 21(Suppl. 2), S37-48. PMCID: PMC2610667


Objective: To use a common ethnographic study protocol across five countries to provide data to confirm social and risk settings and risk behaviors, develop the assessment instruments, tailor the intervention, design a process evaluation of the intervention, and design an understandable informed consent process.
Design: Methods determined best for capturing the core data elements were selected. Standards for data collection methods were established to enable comparable implementation of the ethnographic study across the five countries.
Methods: The methods selected were participant observation, focus groups, open-ended interviews, and social mapping. Standards included adhering to core data elements, number of participants, mode of data collection, type of data collection instrument, number of data collectors at each type of activity, duration of each type of activity, and type of informed consent administered. Sites had discretion in selecting which methods to use to obtain specific data.
Results: The ethnographic studies provided input to the Trial's methods for data collection, described social groups in the target communities, depicted sexual practices, and determined core opinion leader characteristics; thus providing information that drove the adaptation of the intervention and facilitated the selection of venues, behavioral outcomes, and community popular opinion leaders (C-POLs).
Conclusion: The described rapid ethnographic approach worked well across the five countries, where findings allowed local adaptation of the intervention. When introducing the C-POL intervention in new areas, local non-governmental and governmental community and health workers can use this rapid ethnographic approach to identify the communities, social groups, messages, and C-POLs best suited for local implementation.


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NIMH Collaborative HIV/STD Prevention Trial Group [
Margaret E. Bentley, Member of Ethnography Workgroup