Integrating Qualitative and Quantitative Methods: Comparing HIV-Related Risk Behaviors Among Puerto Rican Drug Users in Puerto Rico and New York

National Development and Research Institutes, Inc., Center for Drug Use and HIV Research, New York, New York 10010, USA.
Substance Use &amp Misuse (Impact Factor: 1.23). 02/2003; 38(1):1-24. DOI: 10.1081/JA-120016563
Source: PubMed


A dual site project was conducted to assess determinants of injection and sex-related risk behaviors among Puerto Rican drug users. The project focused on injection drug users and crack smokers, and was conducted in East Harlem, NY and Bayamón, PR in 1996-2000. Qualitative methods included ethnographic mapping, focus groups, in-depth interviews, and observations. A survey component (East Harlem, n = 800; Bayamón, n = 400) was also conducted. Procedures to ensure integration of methodologies and comparability of data were developed. This paper describes the qualitative and survey methods used, and presents the comparative HIV risk behaviors. The integration of the two methodologies served multiple functions: each component identified issues to be addressed in the other, enhanced cross-site comparability of data, and assisted in interpretation of findings. The survey data showed high levels of risk behaviors in both communities, with significantly higher levels of risk reported in Bayamón. Conducting studies of similar ethnic groups in different communities provides opportunities to examine diverse sources of influence on risk behaviors. The integration of qualitative and quantitative methods can enhance comparability and understanding of findings, particularly when there are differences in behaviors between communities.

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