Engaging study participants in interpreting results: lessons from the TRIO study in Kenya and South Africa
Background: Women account for 56% of new HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa. Multipurpose Prevention Technologies (MPTs) are promising interventions because they combine HIV prevention with a less stigmatizing indication, such as pregnancy. We conducted a study with three placebo-only MPT products in Kisumu, Kenya and Soshanguve, South Africa, to assess preferences for attributes of tablets, vaginal rings and injectable products for dual prevention of HIV and pregnancy (TRIO Study). Here, we present former TRIO participants’ views on the study results.
Methods: After study completion in 2017, we held five dissemination sessions (two in Kisumu and three in Soshanguve) and five one-on-one sharing sessions in Soshanguve. Key results were discussed, with a focus on why some study products were more popular than others, which findings were surprising and why some women changed products over time. A thematic approach was used for analysis.
Results: All 277 TRIO participants were telephoned, 168 (60.6%) were reached and 117 (42.2%) attended the dissemination sessions: 71 in Kisumu and 46 in Soshanguve. Participants were engaged and interested in the TRIO findings and willingly shared their perspectives and views candidly. Ease of use, discretion and familiarity were highlighted as drivers of product choice whereas novelty presented a challenge. In explaining the discrepancy between preference ratings and choices, participants cited features such as tablets being easy to explain to a partner or to discontinue. In explaining why 20% of participants switched products after practical experience, issues related to relationships with partners and product attributes perceived as unfavorable were paramount.
Conclusion: The dissemination sessions provided an important forum for study participants to interrogate and explain the results to minimize possible misinterpretation. This exercise helped give context to the results, ensured correct lessons were derived from those results and increased credibility of the findings reported by the investigators.