The moral discourse of HIV providers within their organizational context: An ethnographic case study.

Academic Article


  • OBJECTIVE: Providers make judgments to inform treatment planning, especially when adherence is crucial, as in HIV. We examined the extent these judgments may become intertwined with moral ones, extraneous to patient care, and how these in turn are situated within specific organizational contexts. METHODS: Our ethnographic case study included interviews and observations. Data were analyzed for linguistic markers indexing how providers conceptualized patients and clinic organizational structures and processes. RESULTS: We interviewed 30 providers, observed 43 clinical encounters, and recorded fieldnotes of 30 clinic observations, across 8 geographically-diverse HIV clinics. We found variation, and identified two distinct judgment paradigms: 1) Behavior as individual responsibility: patients were characterized as "good," "behaving," or "socio-paths," and "flakes." Clinical encounters focused on medication reconciliation; 2) Behaviors as socio-culturally embedded: patients were characterized as struggling with housing, work, or relationships. Encounters broadened to problem-solving within patients' life-contexts. In sites with individualized conceptualizations, providers worked independently with limited support services. Sites with socio-culturally embedded conceptualizations had multidisciplinary teams with resources to address patients' life challenges. CONCLUSIONS AND PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: When self-management is viewed as an individual's responsibility, nonadherence may be seen as a moral failing. Multidisciplinary teams may foster perceptions of patients' behaviors as socially embedded.
  • Authors

  • Fix, Gemmae M
  • Hyde, Justeen K
  • Bolton, Rendelle E
  • Parker, Victoria
  • Dvorin, Kelly
  • Wu, Juliet
  • Skolnik, Avy A
  • McInnes, D Keith
  • Midboe, Amanda M
  • Asch, Steven M
  • Gifford, Allen L
  • Bokhour, Barbara G
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • December 2018
  • Published In


  • Adult
  • Anthropology, Cultural
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Communication
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Discourse
  • Ethnography
  • Female
  • HIV
  • Healthcare organization
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Medication Reconciliation
  • Middle Aged
  • Morals
  • Patient Care
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Prejudice
  • Qualitative Research
  • Qualitative methods
  • United States
  • United States Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 2226
  • End Page

  • 2232
  • Volume

  • 101
  • Issue

  • 12