Harmonizing Implementation and Outcome Data Across HIV Prevention and Care Studies in Resource-Constrained Settings

Glob Implement Res Appl. 2022;2(2):166-177. doi: 10.1007/s43477-022-00042-7. Epub 2022 Apr 7.


Harmonizing measures across studies can facilitate comparisons and strengthen the science, but procedures for establishing common data elements are rarely documented. We detail a rigorous, 2-year process to harmonize measures across the Prevention And Treatment through a Comprehensive Care Continuum for HIV-affected Adolescents in Resource Constrained Settings (PATC3H) consortium, consisting of eight federally-funded studies. We created a repository of measured constructs from each study, classified and selected constructs for harmonization, and identified survey instruments. Measures were harmonized for implementation science, HIV prevention and care, demographics and sexual behavior, mental health and substance use, and economic assessment. Importantly, we present our harmonized implementation science constructs. A common set of implementation science constructs have yet to be recommended in the literature for low-to-middle-income countries despite increasing recognition of their importance to delivering and scaling up effective interventions. Drawing on RE-AIM (Reach Effectiveness Adoption Implementation Maintenance) and the Implementation Outcomes Framework, items were harmonized for staff/administrators and study participants to measure reach, adoption, implementation, maintenance, feasibility, acceptability, appropriateness, and fidelity. The process undertaken to harmonize measures and the codified set of implementation science measures developed by our consortium can inform future data harmonization efforts, critical to strengthening the replication and generalizability of findings while facilitating collaborative research-especially in resource-limited settings. We conclude with recommendations for research consortia, namely ensuring representation from all study teams and research priorities; adopting a flexible, transparent, and systematic approach; strengthening the literature on implementation science harmonization; and being responsive to life events (e.g., COVID-19).

Supplementary information: The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s43477-022-00042-7.

Keywords: Adolescents and young adults; Data harmonization; Global health; HIV prevention and care; Implementation science.