International journal of environmental research and public health 2017 11 0714(11) pii 10.3390/ijerph14111355
Worldwide, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) continuum of care involves health promotion providers (e.g., social workers and health educators) linking patients to medical personnel who provide HIV testing, primary care, and antiretroviral treatments. Regrettably, these life-saving linkages are not always made consistently and many patients are not retained in care. To design, test and implement effective interventions, we need to first identify key factors that may improve linkage-making. To help close this gap, we used in-depth interviews with 20 providers selected from a sample of 250 participants in a mixed-method longitudinal study conducted in New York City (2012-2017) in order to examine the implementation of HIV services for at-risk populations. Following a sociomedical framework, we identified provider-, interpersonal- and environmental-level factors that influence how providers engage patients in the care continuum by linking them to HIV testing, HIV care, and other support services. These factors occurred in four domains of reference: Providers’ Professional Knowledge Base; Providers’ Interprofessional Collaboration; Providers’ Work-Related Changes; and Best Practices in a Competitive Environment. Of particular importance, our findings show that a competitive environment and a fear of losing patients to other agencies may inhibit providers from engaging in linkage-making. Our results suggest relationships between factors within and across all four domains; we recommend interventions to modify factors in all domains for maximum effect toward improving care continuum linkage-making. Our findings may be applicable in different areas of the globe with high HIV prevalence.