i3 conference held this week at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland. Kondwani Wella (the third of my PhD students presenting at this conference) is talking about Experiencing HIV and AIDS information: a phenomenological study of serodiscordant couples in Malawi.
He has been investigating how serodiscordant couples (that is, when one partner is HIV positive, and the other HIV negative) experience of HIV/AIDS information in Malawi, using a phenomenological approach. He had 45 participants, 21 couples and three people who had separated because of their HIV status. Their level of education varied from having no formal education, the majority who had primary or secondary education, to one couple where education was at university level. Kondwani described the data collection and analysis process, based primarily on Van Manen’s approach to phenomenological research.
He identified five lifeworld existentials (where they experienced information): lived body (which, for example, might reveal or conceal HIV/AIDS); lived others (e.g. nurses, community, family); lived spaces; lived time (e.g. truncated lifespan) and spirituality (God and ancestral spirits). The last existential was a new thing which emerged specifically from Kondwani’s research.
In terms of HIV/AIDS information availability, for example, there was a lack of availability (with information aimed at couples where both were HIV positive), the HIV negative partner’s needs might be overlooked or denied. There were also barriers e.g. print sources were inaccessible to illiterate people; hospitals etc. had to be travelled to; some information was in English or was too technical.
Kondwani presenting the graphic of his overall conceptual framework for information experience, an iterative model which includes stages of anticipation, filtering, evaluation, interaction, acting on information and reflection.
He finished by identifying some practical implications. Firstly, there needed to be collaboration with faith based organisations (because of spiritua;ity's importance in people's lives). Secondly, HIV/AIDS information services needed to use participative approaches. Thirdly, information communication should aim at informing everyday talk (because the community and family had a big impact on people's lives and behaviour). Finally, information services could use Kondwani's model in designing services.
Photo by Sheila Webber: through a window at Dunnottir castle, June 2015