PhD Graduate Kat Kolar and Professor Adam Green on HIV Prevention Science

PhD graduate Kat Kolar and Professor Adam Green published an article in Sociology of Health & Illness that outlines their content analysis of HIV prevention science funded by the National Institute of Health. Green & Kolar find that research into intervention takes a biomedical approach, but prevention research that focuses on risk factors tends to be more sociological in nature.

Kat Kolar obtained her PhD in Sociology from the University of Toronto in 2018. Her dissertation is titled Differentiating the Drug Normalization Framework: A Mixed Methods Investigation of Substance Use among Undergraduate Students in Canada. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at UBC researching the social integration of substance use and health inequities impacting people who use illicit drugs. Adam Green is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto. His research is situated at the intersection of the sociology of sexuality and medical sociology, and aims to develop theory relevant to both areas.

We have posted the citation and the abstract of the article below. The full text is available through Research Gate here.

Green, Adam and Kat Kolar. 2015. “Engineering Behaviour Change in an Epidemic: The Epistemology of NIH-Funded HIV Prevention Science.” Sociology of Health & Illness, 37(4):1-17.

Social scientific and public health literature on National Institutes of Health-funded HIV behavioural prevention science often assumes that this body of work has a strong biomedical epistemological orientation. We explore this assumption by conducting a systematic content analysis of all NIH-funded HIV behavioural prevention grants for men who have sex with men between 1989 and 2012. We find that while intervention research strongly favours a biomedical orientation, research into the antecedents of HIV risk practices favours a sociological, interpretive and structural orientation. Thus, with respect to NIH-funded HIV prevention science, there exists a major disjunct in the guiding epistemological orientations of how scientists understand HIV risk, on the one hand, and how they engineer behaviour change in behavioural interventions, on the other. Building on the extant literature, we suggest that the cause of this disjunct is probably attributable not to an NIH-wide positivist orientation, but to the specific standards of evidence used to adjudicate HIV intervention grant awards, including randomised controlled trials and other quantitative measures of intervention efficacy.

Read the full article here.