Last updated on February 2019

Women's Initiative Supporting Health Increasing Healthcare Access

Brief description of study

Women recently released (RR women) from incarceration constitute a vulnerable group characterized by high rates of untreated HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), substance use disorder (SUD), mental health (MH) disorders and trauma. This interconnected syndemic requires helping RR women to overcome multiple internal and structural care barriers. This R34 builds on work conducted by the PI in a NIDA-funded K23 project, in which an intervention called Women's Initiative Supporting Health (WISH) was developed to improve RR women's engagement in HIV, Hepatitis C (HCV), and primary medical care using Self Determination Theory (SDT). The proposed R34 project, a natural extension of this prior work, will conduct a pilot randomized controlled trial (RCT) of the WISH intervention to examine feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary effectiveness.

Detailed Study Description

The PI identified two priority needs of RR women: (1) adequate HIV/HCV prevention counseling and services, including HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medications for women at high risk, and (2) primary care as an avenue to address co-occurring SUD, MH disorders, and trauma that interfere with HIV preventive care. WISH is a gender, trauma, and culturally-specific, peer-delivered intervention designed to improve health services utilization and health behaviors. The proposed pilot RCT will examine the feasibility, acceptability and preliminary effectiveness of the WISH intervention in a community setting.

The WISH intervention is grounded in Self-Determination Theory (SDT), which shows that support for autonomy increases autonomous regulation and perceived competence which mediate engagement in healthy behaviors by overcoming internal and structural barriers. A novel and exploratory aim of the proposed study is to examine whether related biologic changes vary in association with SDT mediation measures. Serum inflammatory biomarkers interleukin (IL) -6, IL-8, C-reactive protein (CRP) and coagulation marker D-dimer variations are associated with HIV vulnerability and depression, and these biomarkers have not been studied in relation to SDT.

This study will randomize RR women to the WISH intervention or enhanced treatment-as-usual (eTAU) control. WISH peer community health workers (CHW) will conduct SDT-based individual sessions with women addressing autonomy and competence regarding linkage to HIV risk reduction treatment, SUD treatment, primary care, and structural empowerment. Structurally, the peers will be a part of the primary care medical team to: (1) inform providers regarding women's treatment needs and readiness; (2) navigate RR women to link with HIV risk reduction services including prophylaxis providers; and (3) help women overcome systemic barriers to care. The investigator will examine SDT mediation measures, associated internal and structural barriers, treatment engagement and adherence, HIV risk behaviors, and inflammation. Specific aims are as follows:

Aim 1: Evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of the WISH intervention in a community


Aim 1 Outcomes: Participant mixed method feedback for all study and intervention procedures.

Aim 2: Assess the preliminary effectiveness of WISH to improve engagement in and adherence to needed treatments and associated outcomes

  1. Linkage to HIV prevention services; HIV risk behaviors: Assess WISH intervention effects on HIV prevention services engagement as primary outcome, adherence, and reductions in HIV risk behaviors 2a. Hypothesis: WISH intervention will show preliminary effectiveness to improve use of preventative services, including pre-exposure prophylaxis, self-reported HIV risk behaviors, and STIs
  2. SUD and other tx: Examine engagement and adherence for treatment as secondary WISH outcome. Hypothesis: WISH intervention will show preliminary effectiveness to increase SUD, primary care, and MH treatment initiation, engagement, and continuity of care, and reduced substance use & MH symptoms.

Aim 3: Assess WISH mechanisms of action: Assess preliminary effect differences in known SDT mediators in relation to Aim 2 outcomes. Hypothesis: SDT measures will mediate relationship between the intervention and Aim 2 outcomes.

Exploratory Aim: Explore inflammatory biomarker outcomes of WISH: Measure serum IL-6, IL-8, CRP, and D-dimer and associated SDT mediators in intervention and control subjects. Hypotheses: IL-6, IL-8, CRP, and D-dimer levels and associated SDT mediators will correlate.

Implications: RR women are at high risk for syndemic risk factors of HIV/HCV, SUD, mental health disorders, and trauma. Yet, engagement in needed care in this group is exceedingly low and innovative interventions are needed to address this problem. To the investigator's knowledge, this is the first study to assess a SDT-based intervention designed to address urgently needed improvements in the provision and utilization of HIV and primary care services for RR persons. The intervention incorporates health behavior change, CHW training, peer-navigation, and targets biological and behavioral mechanisms of changes in HIV risk. It further develops community and training infrastructures which will lead to reduced disparities in HIV acquisition

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT02964845

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University of Rochester

Rochester, NY United States
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Recruitment Status: Open

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