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1.  HIV risk after release from prison: a qualitative study of former inmates 
Former prison inmates are at risk for HIV and Hepatitis C (HCV). This study was designed to understand how former inmates perceived their risk of HIV and HCV after release from prison, the behaviors and environmental factors that put patients at risk for new infection and the barriers to accessing health care.
Qualitative study utilizing individual, face-to-face, semi-structured interviews exploring participants’ perceptions and behaviors putting them at risk for HIV and HCV and barriers to engaging in regular medical care after release. Interview transcripts were coded and analyzed utilizing a team-based general inductive approach.
Participants were racially and ethnically diverse and consisted of 20 men and 9 women with an age range of 22–57 years who were interviewed within the first two months after their release from prison to the Denver, Colorado community. Four major themes emerged: 1) risk factors including unprotected sex, transactional sex, and drug use were prevalent in the post-release period; 2) engagement in risky behavior occurred disproportionately in the first few days after release; 3) former inmates had educational needs about HIV and HCV; and 4) former inmates faced major challenges in accessing health care and medications.
Risk factors for HIV and HCV were prevalent among former inmates immediately after release. Prevention efforts should focus on education, promotion of safe sex and needle practices, substance abuse treatment, and drug- free transitional housing. Improved coordination between correctional staff, parole officers and community health care providers may improve continuity of care.
PMCID: PMC3685495  PMID: 21522015
2.  Giving Voice to Patients' and Family Caregivers' Needs in Chronic Heart Failure: Implications for Palliative Care Programs 
Journal of Palliative Medicine  2011;14(12):1317-1324.
The American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association (ACC/AHA) Guidelines for the Management of Heart Failure recommend palliative care in the context of Stage D HF or at the end of life. Previous studies related to heart failure (HF) palliative care provide useful information about patients' experiences, but they do not provide concrete guidance for what palliative care needs are most important and how a palliative care program should be structured.
Describe HF patients' and their family caregivers' major concerns and needs. Explore whether, how, and when palliative care would be useful to them.
Design and participants
Qualitative study using in-depth interviews of 33 adult outpatients with symptomatic HF identified using purposive sampling and 20 of their family caregivers.
Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using the constant comparative method.
Key results
Overall, patients and caregivers desired early support adjusting to the limitations and future course of illness, relief of a number of diverse symptoms, and the involvement of family caregivers using a team approach. A diverse group of participants desired these elements of palliative care early in illness, concurrent with their disease-specific care, coordinated by a provider who understood their heart condition and knew them well. Some diverging needs and preferences were found based on health status and age.
HF patients and their family caregivers supported early integration of palliative care services, particularly psychosocial support and symptom control, using a collaborative team approach. Future research should test the feasibility and effectiveness of integrating such a program into routine HF care.
PMCID: PMC3532000  PMID: 22107107
3.  Return to drug use and overdose after release from prison: a qualitative study of risk and protective factors 
Former inmates are at high risk for death from drug overdose, especially in the immediate post-release period. The purpose of the study is to understand the drug use experiences, perceptions of overdose risk, and experiences with overdose among former prisoners.
This qualitative study included former prison inmates (N = 29) who were recruited within two months after their release. Interviewers conducted in-person, semi-structured interviews which explored participants' experiences and perceptions. Transcripts were analyzed utilizing a team-based method of inductive analysis.
The following themes emerged: 1) Relapse to drugs and alcohol occurred in a context of poor social support, medical co-morbidity and inadequate economic resources; 2) former inmates experienced ubiquitous exposure to drugs in their living environments; 3) intentional overdose was considered "a way out" given situational stressors, and accidental overdose was perceived as related to decreased tolerance; and 4) protective factors included structured drug treatment programs, spirituality/religion, community-based resources (including self-help groups), and family.
Former inmates return to environments that strongly trigger relapse to drug use and put them at risk for overdose. Interventions to prevent overdose after release from prison may benefit from including structured treatment with gradual transition to the community, enhanced protective factors, and reductions of environmental triggers to use drugs.
PMCID: PMC3414824  PMID: 22966409
Drug use; Overdose; Prisoners; Relapse; Prison re-entry
4.  Returning to Work after Cancer: Quantitative Studies and Prototypical Narratives 
Psycho-oncology  2010;19(2):115-124.
A combination of quantitative data and illustrative narratives may allow cancer survivorship researchers to disseminate their research findings more broadly. We identified recent, methodologically rigorous quantitative studies on return to work after cancer, summarized the themes from these studies, and illustrated those themes with narratives of individual cancer survivors.
We reviewed English-language studies of return to work for adult cancer survivors through June, 2008, and identified 13 general themes from papers that met methodological criteria (population-based sampling, prospective and longitudinal assessment, detailed assessment of work, evaluation of economic impact, assessment of moderators of work return, and large sample size). We drew survivorship narratives from a prior qualitative research study to illustrate these themes.
Nine quantitative studies met 4 or more of our 6 methodological criteria. These studies suggested that most cancer survivors could return to work without residual disabilities. Cancer site, clinical prognosis, treatment modalities, socioeconomic status, and attributes of the job itself influenced the likelihood of work return. Three narratives - a typical survivor who returned to work after treatment, an individual unable to return to work, and an inspiring survivor who returned to work despite substantial barriers - illustrated many of the themes from the quantitative literature while providing additional contextual details.
Illustrative narratives can complement the findings of cancer survivorship research if researchers are rigorous and transparent in the selection, analysis, and retelling of those stories.
PMCID: PMC2818031  PMID: 19507264
Cancer; oncology; survivorship; work function; quality of life; qualitative research; narrative medidicne; review
5.  Support Needs of Informal Hospice Caregivers: A Qualitative Study 
Journal of Palliative Medicine  2009;12(12):1101-1104.
Informal caregivers of hospice patients experience multiple stressors that can negatively impact physical, psychological, and emotional health. The goal of this qualitative study was to understand caregivers' needs to inform the feasibility, structure, and content of a telephone-based counseling intervention.
Focus groups and interviews with 36 former hospice caregivers and 11 hospice staff from 6 hospices were conducted. Interviews and focus groups were audio-recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using a constant comparative approach.
Key content areas included coping, emotional support, self-care, logistical issues, and bereavement. Respondents supported telephone-based counseling, appreciating its relative anonymity and convenience. It was recommended that calls be initiated by the counselor, on a weekly basis, and that one counselor be assigned to each caregiver. Hospice staff emphasized the need to coordinate telephone counseling with hospice care, scheduling around and communicating with hospice staff. Most caregivers indicated that they would participate in telephone-based counseling were it available; hospice staff thought that half of caregivers would participate. A pervasive theme was that “there can never be enough support for a caregiver.”
Informal caregivers of hospice patients have support needs that are amenable to telephone-based counseling designed to be complementary to existing hospice services. Based on these qualitative findings, we are pilot-testing a telephone-based cognitive-behavioral stress management program for informal caregivers of hospice patients.
PMCID: PMC2883517  PMID: 19764830

Results 1-5 (5)