The acceptability and feasibility of a pilot study examining the impact of a mobile technology-based intervention informed by behavioral economics to improve HIV knowledge and testing frequency among Latinx sexual minority men and transgender women
BACKGROUND: We developed a novel intervention that uses behavioral economics incentives and mobile-health text messages to increase HIV knowledge and testing frequency among Latinx sexual minority men and Latinx transgender women. Here we provide a theoretically-grounded assessment regarding the intervention’s acceptability and feasibility.
METHODS: We conducted 30-min exit interviews with a stratified sample of participants (n = 26 Latinx sexual minority men, 15 Latinx transgender women), supplemented with insights from study staff (n = 6). All interviews were recorded, transcribed, and translated for a content analysis using Dedoose. Cohen’s Kappa was 89.4% across coded excerpts. We evaluated acceptability based on how participants cognitively and emotionally reacted to the intervention and whether they considered it to be appropriate. We measured feasibility based on resource, scientific and process assessments (e.g., functionality of text messaging service, feedback on study recruitment procedures and surveys).
RESULTS: Regarding acceptability, most participants clearly understood the intervention as a program to receive information about HIV prevention methods through text messages. Participants who did not complete the intervention shared they did not fully understand what it entailed at their initial enrollment, and thought it was a one-time engagement and not an ongoing program. Though some participants with a higher level of education felt the information was simplistic, most appreciated moving beyond a narrow focus on HIV to include general information on sexually transmitted infections; drug use and impaired sexual decision-making; and differential risks associated with sexual positions and practices. Latinx transgender women in particular appreciated receiving information about Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. While participants didn’t fully understand the exact chances of winning a prize in the quiz component, most enjoyed the quizzes and chance of winning a prize. Participants appreciated that the intervention required a minimal time investment. Participants shared that the intervention was generally culturally appropriate. Regarding feasibility, most participants reported the text message platform worked well though inactive participants consistently said technical difficulties led to their disengagement. Staff shared that clients had varying reactions to being approached while being tested for HIV, with some unwilling to enroll and others being very open and curious about the program. Both staff and participants relayed concerns regarding the length of the recruitment process and study surveys.
CONCLUSIONS: Our theoretically-grounded assessment shows the intervention is both acceptable and feasible.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: The trial was registered on May 5, 2017 with the ClinicalTrials.gov registry [ NCT03144336 ].
MacCarthy, S., Mendoza-Graf, A., Wagner, Z., J, L. B., Kim, A., Giguere, R., . . . Linnemayr, S. (2021). The acceptability and feasibility of a pilot study examining the impact of a mobile technology-based intervention informed by behavioral economics to improve HIV knowledge and testing frequency among Latinx sexual minority men and transgender women. BMC Public Health, 21(1), 341. doi:10.1186/s12889-021-10335-5