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AIDS Educ Prev. 2006 Jun;18(3):216-26.

Uncovering implicit theories of HIV prevention providers: it takes a community.

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City College of San Francisco, 50 Phelan Ave., CA 94112, USA.


The Implicit Theories Project was a formative research study about what HIV prevention providers believe promotes risk behavior and facilitates behavior change. The study focused on providers who worked directly with clients to uncover providers' implicit theories. We conducted this work across several communities and targeted "risk groups" to uncover any commonalties among these various groupings. We conducted 20 in-depth interviews with HIV prevention providers from five community-based organizations (CBOs) in the San Francisco Bay Area. Although we focused on widely diverse populations, there was a tremendous amount of overlap in what they believed was at the core of behavior change. We also found that their theories of change were based on acknowledging larger structural factors and providing a sense of community. Identifying providers' implicit theories is useful to CBOs and researchers in helping to clarify circumstances that encourage HIV-related risk behaviors among at-risk populations and to inform program development and more formal evaluation efforts.

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