Category 1: Assessment
Research design and methods
Assessments can use qualitative, quantitative and participatory methods, such as:
- in-depth interviews, i.e. talking to individuals about their experiences;
- focus group discussions, i.e. discussions with small groups about specific issues;
- surveys, i.e. asking sets of questions about key issues and analysing the results;
- mapping, i.e. locating places where sex work takes place on maps;
- observation, i.e. seeing what conditions are like;
- enumeration, i.e. estimating the sizes of specific populations.
There are many ways of approaching an assessment. In sex work settings, individuals are often suspicious of outsiders and, as in other settings, what people say may not always reflect what they do. It is therefore a good idea to use a variety of methods, to include a variety of informants and to check the results with local people. The use of participatory methods and the involvement of local people in the research process help to ensure useful, realistic and accurate results.
Data analysis and dissemination
Before data are collected, consider how they will be managed, analysed and documented. Some data can be quantified (e.g. numbers and origins of sex workers or rates of condom use), whereas others may be visual (e.g. maps) or more qualitative (e.g. local illness classifications). Qualitative data can be described in terms of key themes (e.g. sex workers' lack of power to negotiate safer sex) or key contexts (e.g. particular working conditions that create vulnerability to HIV).
Try to summarize data in a short and usable form. For example, for each category of required information a list of key findings can be presented, followed by related contextual information, existing responses and key factors that might assist or hinder an intervention in the area concerned.