Methodological Issues in HIV-Related Social Research in Nigeria
This paper is about methodological issues in a community-wide study in Nigeria on an infectious disease, namely HIV/AIDS. The study was designed to ascertain the risk factors that contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS and how that can be tackled in order to bring about behavioural change. The research team believed at the onset that a study on the interplay between HIV/AIDS and sensitive issues like sexual mores and sexuality requires much more than a straightjacket social science method, such as simply doing a cross-section study and/or using interview schedule. This paper reviews the essence of cross-disciplinary approach; team building; as well as the use of a non-participatory observational approach in data collection. It also shows why ample consideration was given to ethical issues which are often glossed over in social research in developing countries. The lessons from the study underscore the methodological imperatives in social research that focus on sensitive issues in largely non-literate context like Nigeria. Although there are formidable challenges in community-based studies in largely non-literate societies, nevertheless they could easily be surmounted if there are ample time and resources to navigate the various sticking points. Afr J Reprod Health 2013 (Special Edition); 17: 146-155).
Keywords: Qualitative methodology; Ethics in social research; Cross-disciplinary; Cross sectional and semi-longitudinal; Team building; ethnographical; uni-disciplinary