The BC team is beginning to implement the Making It Work study funded through a CIHR CBR Catalyst Grant. The team has decided to use a Realist Evaluation approach to this work and as part of the team’s capacity building PAN has pulled together an introductory primer on Realist Evaluation.
What is Realist Evaluation?
Realist Evaluation is a theory-based approach that asks “How or why does this work, for whom and in what circumstances?” rather than just “what works?” The goal is to develop a detailed theory on how a program works and unpack the processes that are normally non-observable.
When to Use Realist Evaluation
- New initiatives or pilot programs (or programs that seem to work, but for whom and how is not yet understood)
- Programs for scale-up (to understand how to adapt the intervention to new contexts)
- Programs that have previously demonstrated mixed patterns of outcomes (to understand how and why this is).
Visit PAN’s website to learn more.
On April 14, 2016, Dr. Perry Kendall, the Provincial Health Officer, declared a public health emergency under the Public Health Act as a result of a dramatic increase in the number of opioid-related overdose deaths across British Columbia (BC) since the beginning of 2016. Because PAN’s member agencies and partners have been on the frontlines of responding to, reversing, and managing grief and loss related to overdoses, substantial time was spent discussing the opioid crisis and national drug policy at the PAN Fall Conference in October 2016. After the conference, PAN staff put together a Drug Policy Report summarizing these conversations.
Building on momentum from the conference and a strong desire to support the work already happening in community-based organizations (CBOs) across the province, PAN and the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) started a conversation about how PAN can best support progress on this issue. The discussion put into motion a rapid assessment to determine key capacity- and skills-building activities that would support frontline organizations responding to BC’s overdose crisis.
Key stakeholders from across the province, including people with lived experience, CBO staff, outreach nurses, and Regional Harm Reduction Coordinators, were invited to participate in the rapid assessment. Most invitees were eager to make time to schedule these 20- to 30-minute phone calls despite their stretched resources, commenting that they had prioritized this invitation as an opportunity to report on what they were experiencing in their organizations and to voice the needs of their staff, members and clients. This high level of stakeholder engagement in the rapid assessment speaks to a province-wide need for capacity- and skills-building activities, as well as other forms of sustained support, in response to this crisis.
The responses provided by the key stakeholders were analyzed and summarized in a report that will guide PAN’s next steps. If you are interested in reading the results of the rapid assessment, please click here to download the report.
Population Size Estimates (PSEs) for key populations most affected by HIV and HCV, namely gay, bi and other MSM and for people who inject drugs, have been developed. This project has been led by the BCCDC and supported by the Pacific AIDS Network, with consulting work provided by the University of Manitoba. In addition to the PSEs, the team also developed a summary document for the project.
During this work the team was able to develop some reference resources that describe why PSEs are important and that highlight case studies or examples from around the world of places that have used PSEs for program planning. These may be useful resources for teams who want to learn more information about how to develop and use population size estimates in their work.
- Why are Population Size Estimates Important?
- San Francisco Efforts “Getting to Zero”
- The Transitions Project: Estimating Female Sex Workers’ Early HIV Risk and the Implications for HIV Epidemic Control
- The Winnipeg Mapping Project
The Positive Leadership Development Institute (PLDI), a three-module leadership training program led by and for people living with HIV (PLHIV), has delivered 20 sessions of leadership training to over 167 participants in BC since 2009, when PAN’s partnership with the Ontario AIDS Network was established.
The purpose of this highly-valued series of three- and four-day training programs is to support people living with HIV/AIDS to realize their leadership potential and meaningful participation in community life. Each PLDI training includes an evaluation process and the feedback collected after each session been very positive. But what are the larger impacts of the training? What leadership activities do PLDI participants participate in after they complete any or all three of the PLDI modules? After all these years, PAN and the PLDI Leadership decided it is time for a comprehensive evaluation of the training program – we know that PLDI participants are accomplishing great things in the community and it is time to gather the information needed to tell that story!
In keeping with the PLDI’s mandate to deliver training by and for PLHIV, four Peer Evaluators – Paul Kerber, Darcy McFadden, Martin Morberg and Candice Norris – were hired in June 2016 to drive this evaluation project. PAN, through support from REACH, has been working to train and support this team of Peer Evalutors. The team has just launched data collection through an online survey and will be doing interviews as well and analysis on past evaluations. If you live in BC and want to participate please see this blog post on PAN’s website. We hope to be able to share findings from this evaluation in the spring!
We are excited to welcome Heather Holroyd who was hired in October 2016 at the Pacific AIDS Network (PAN) in British Columbia to support PAN’s Evaluation and Community Based Research Programs, thanks to support from the CBR Collaborative Centre and REACH. Collaborating with PAN staff and the Peer Evaluators on the Positive Leadership Development Institute’s impact evaluation will be a major component of Heather’s work over the coming months. Heather recently completed a PhD in sociology at the University of British Columbia and has been a board member at Positive Women’s Network since 2012.
To learn more about Heather please see her 5 Questions with Heather Holroyd, PAN’s Evaluation & Community Based Research Programs Contractor blog post on the PAN website.
The BC People Living with HIV Stigma Index (the Stigma Index) is a dynamic research project in British Columbia, born out of a community-identified need to turn the tide against persistent HIV stigma and discrimination. Linked to the international HIV Stigma Index initiative and REACH’s national stigma work, it is the first ever community-based research (CBR) study in British Columbia to document experiences of stigma and discrimination from the perspective of people living with HIV.
The BC People Living with HIV Stigma Index, community-based research team at the Pacific AIDS Network, has started recruiting people living with HIV/AIDS from across the province to participate in interviews for this study. The interview involves a range of questions regarding experiences of stigma and discrimination in relation to HIV status.
For more information about the BC Stigma Index and to watch our videos visit www.pacificaidsnetwork.org/stigma
The Positive Living, Positive Homes team in BC tapped into the housing-related data from BC’s arm of the Food Security Study to help contextualize our understanding of these issues.
The BC arm of the Food Security Study spoke with 329 people living with HIV in four regions of the province to learn more about where they lived and their level of food security. The findings from this study indicate that food and housing are expensive necessities, and for many HIV-positive people it is difficult to afford both. Preliminary analysis of the data shows that participants feel that food is a priority but they are often made to choose between either paying rent or having enough to eat.
The study also found that regions plays a role not only in the price of food, but also in how people living with HIV in BC experience food, housing and other health and social issues. Visit the PAN website to read about the preliminary data findings (English only).
As PAN is ramping up for its annual Fall Conference it has recorded a number of webinars (scroll down the page) highlighting work happening in our Community-Based Research and Evaluation Program. You can learn more about:
- The Peer Evaluator Project
- Positive Living, Positive Homes
- The BC People Living with HIV Stigma Index
- 2015 PAN Members’ and Stakeholders’ Survey Results
You can also participate in two live Q&A sessions relating to these webinars on October 19th at 10:00am (Pacific time) and November 23rd at 10:00am (Pacific time). Login codes are on the PAN 2016 Fall Conference web page.
As the Positive Living Positive Homes team dives into data from initial interviews with HIV-positive participants, they are running up against some tricky issues. In this blog post, Prince George Site Coordinator Devyn Flesher reflects on the difficulties of asking about the discrimination potentially faced by HIV+ folks seeking and maintaining housing in Prince George.
In Prince George and Vancouver, the PLPH team has completed the first round of interviews for the study, and data analysis has started. Some clear themes and patterns have already begun to appear, with some topics creating new questions that we wanted to dig into more deeply.
One pattern that came up in the analysis of transcripts from initial interviews was a disconnect between what participants were answering about discrimination within a housing context and what they were actually saying about discrimination. A prime example is when a participant would describe what, to me, was clearly a situation in which they were being discriminated against, but later in the interview, when directly asked if they had ever experienced discrimination, they would say “no.” The team wanted to get at that disconnect a little better and figure out a way of getting a more complete story from people.
Read the complete blog post for more information on how the study team approached this situation.