Defining, Designing, Implementing, and Evaluating Phase 4 HIV Prevention Effectiveness Trials for Vulnerable Populations

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Summary:The efficacy of behavioral HIV prevention interventions has been convincingly demonstrated in a large number of randomized controlled phase 3 research outcome trials. Little research attention has been directed toward studying the effectiveness of the same interventions when delivered by providers to their own clients or community members, however. This article argues for the need to conduct phase 4 effectiveness trials of HIV prevention interventions that have been found efficacious in the research arena. Such trials can provide important information concerning the impact of interventions when applied in heterogeneous “real-world” circumstances. This article raises design issues and methodologic questions that need to be addressed in the conduct of phase 4 trials of behavioral interventions. These issues include the selection and training of service providers engaged in such trials, maintenance of fidelity to intervention protocol in provider-delivered interventions, determination of intervention core elements versus aspects that require tailoring, selection of relevant phase 4 study outcomes, interpretation of findings indicative of field effectiveness, sustainability, and other aspects of phase 4 trial design.

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