Evaluation of Women’s Interagency HIV Study – Atlanta Community Advisory Board: Implementation during COVID-19 and Recommendations for Incorporation of New Populations of Men and Younger Women Cohorts Open Access

Shetty, Shakti (Spring 2021)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/zc77sr40w?locale=en


Background: To ensure ethical research, communities must be engaged and partnered with to provide feedback and input into all levels of creation and implementation of research studies. Community advisory boards (CABs) are one strategy that creates an equal partnership with community members to provide insight and recommendations for research stakeholders to best support the communities in which they conduct research in.

Methods: As part of an internal evaluation of the Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS) - CAB, three focus group discussions were conducted with existing WIHS CAB members, representatives from communities that WIHS aims to incorporate, and key WIHS staff members from September 2020 through December 2020 to understand the challenges related to COVID-19 as well as perspectives to ensure the efficacy of the community advisory board as new populations are served. Rapid Qualitative Analysis Methods were used to examine best practices, challenges, and recommendations moving forward within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as incorporating new populations of the MACS/WIHS Combined Cohort Study (MWCCS) and the Study of Treatment and Reproductive Health in Women (STAR) cohort.

Results: The data extracted from the focus group discussions were compiled within a data analysis matrix that utilized a priori themes and emerging themes that were expressed during the data collection advisory boards in order to evaluate themes, successes, and gaps. The themes present in the final data analysis matrix were: Goal and Mission of Community Advisory Boards, Successful Strategies, COVID-19 Impacts, Communication Methods, Relationships and Rapport, Key Personnel, Incorporating New Populations, and Community Impact.

Conclusions: The synthesis of the results informed four recommendations for the WIHS CAB and staff to move forward within the context of COVID-19 as well as incorporating new populations. Firstly, to continue strategies of online engagement via the newsletter and Zoom meetings. Secondly, utilizing timely incorporation of iterative CAB feedback to maintain trust between staff and CAB members. Thirdly to create separate CABs within MWCCS and for STAR in order to maintain diverse perspectives and priorities. To achieve this third recommendation, a crossover of initial meetings to get established that the current WIHS CAB can guide as well as bi-monthly or a spaced-out meeting time for all CAB members to share information and foundational knowledge is recommended. The final recommendation is to ensure the STAR cohort study has a culturally competent and effective community liaison modeled after the WIHS CAB community liaison position.

Table of Contents

Chapter I: Introduction

Chapter II: Comprehensive Literature Review

Purpose of Community Advisory Boards

Community Advisory Board Best Practices

Relationship Between HIV Research and Community Advisory Boards

Research Staff and Community Advisory Board Member Dynamics

COVID-19 Guidelines for Community Advisory Boards

History of WIHS Community Advisory Board – Atlanta

Populations Represented by WIHS Community Advisory Board

Chapter III: Methods


Study Setting

Eligibility and Participant Recruitment

Internal Evaluation Procedure

Interview Content


Ethics and Safety

Chapter IV: Results

Goal and Mission of Community Advisory Boards

Successful Strategies

COVID-19 Impacts

Communication Methods

Relationship and Rapport

Key Personnel

Incorporating New Populations

Community Level Impacts

Chapter V: Discussion

Chapter VI: Recommendations

Chapter VII: Conclusion



Appendix A: Focus Group Discussion Guides

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