Probing the processes : longitudinal qualitative research on social determinants of HIV
Longitudinal qualitative research can provide rich understanding of the life circumstances of vulnerable groups who experience health inequities, of whether, how and why these circumstances change, and of how these circumstances and processes of change impact health. But, this rich understanding is not automatic and requires systematic and thoughtful approaches to data collection and analysis. The purpose of this paper is to describe two longitudinal qualitative studies embedded in mixed-methods studies of social determinants of HIV in the United States and the Dominican Republic. We compare these two studies to critically reflect on specific techniques that facilitate longitudinal and iterative data collection, management, and analysis, in particular the use of participant-specific matrices and analytic summaries across the distinct phases of the research. We conclude that combining cross-sectional and longitudinal analysis that engages with both themes and processes of change can contribute to improved contextualization and understanding of social determinants of HIV.