Buenos dias, readers! We have just come back from Phase 2 field training in beautiful Puerto Rico!

Phase 2 of the Injection Risk Networks in Rural Puerto Rico project will proceed with many of the same protocols that we utilized during Phase 1–HIV rapid testing, Hepatitis C rapid testing, and computer assisted personal interviews. The new addition for Phase 2 is that we will be incorporating micro-network ethnographic assays (um… what?!). That’s a long winded way to say that we’re going to use ethnography to obtain a few complete risk network pictures. During Phase 2, we’ll randomly select about 25 participants from Phase 1 to serve as “key respondents”. The field research team will complete ethnographic focal follows with a key respondent (for about two weeks each), and the key respondent will recruit all of the people that they typically use drugs with (their entire “risk network”) to participate in a computer assisted personal interview and HIV/HepC tests with our team. Overall, this will create a dataset with very specific information about all of the people (“actors”) who inject together (in a “risk network”) to create model simulations. Additionally, the ethnographic research will allow us to understand whether there are differences between what people are actually doing (behavior observed through ethnography) and what they are reporting that they do (with the computer assisted personal interviews).

Ethnography is a very well-known data collection method that anthropologists and sociologists have used for decades. However, ethnography is typically done with just one researcher. However, this project includes four ethnographic field researchers. During Phase 2 training this past week, we worked together to develop a field work manual that creates protocols for all four field researchers to work together on a “team ethnography”. Overall, we believe that having four ethnographers will contribute to a richer dataset! If you’re interested in learning more about the team ethnography approach, please send an email to mwelch2@unl.edu!

That’s all for now–off to start data collection for Phase 2!!

Share Post