Join us in congratulating Dr. Christopher Owens for successfully defending his dissertation on June 26, 2020.
A Community-Based Multi-Perspectival Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of the Rural HIV Care Continuum
We asked Chris to share a summary of his dissertation work:
“The title of my dissertation is 'A Community-Based Multi-Perspectival Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of the Rural HIV Care Continuum.' A mouthful, right? What does it mean, why did I do it, and why does it matter? I study rural HIV prevention and care, rural LGBTQ+ health, and the sexual healthcare practices of rural healthcare providers. The HIV care continuum is a series of steps a person with HIV goes through to manage their HIV, starting with being diagnosed with HIV to being virally suppressed or undetectable (that means they cannot sexually transmit the virus onto others). As with most of my research, community partners (like community organizations) have a question that is brought up at a meeting, and I say I can study that. What community-based means is that a local AIDS service organization in a rural region of a Midwestern state and I collaboratively created research questions, data collection instruments, recruitment materials, and final results. My dissertation asked 3 questions: 1) What is it like to be a rural HIV social worker, or what does it mean to be a rural HIV social worker or work in the rural HIV care continuum? 2) What is it like to be in and go through the rural HIV care continuum among rural gay and bisexual men living with HIV, or what does it mean to be in or go through the rural HIV care continuum? 3) How is the rural HIV care continuum experiences similar and different among rural HIV social workers and rural gay and bisexual men living with HIV? These questions matter because most HIV care continuum research collects data on people with HIV and HIV social workers who live in metropolitan cities rather than rural areas. Results have implications for rural HIV social work practice and development, rural HIV care continuum programming and evaluation, and rural HIV care continuum research.”
Chris is excited to continue his academic journey as a Postdoctoral Scholar for the Institute of Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing at the Northwestern University School of Medicine beginning August 1, 2020. There, he will be working on mobile health (mHealth) interventions regarding rural HIV prevention, rural LGBTQ+ health, and other topics. Chris is looking forward to growing his skills as an applied rural HIV and rural LGBTQ+ health researcher as he acquires knowledge and skills related to Mhealth intervention design and research, quantitative analyses, and NIH grants.
Chris has been an integral part of the CSHP during his time at IU and, although we are sad to see him leave, all of us at the CSHP are thrilled for his next steps.