Considering high alcohol and violence neighborhood context using daily diaries and GPS: A pilot study among people living with HIV

Katherine P. Theall, Erica Felker-Kantor, Maeve Wallace, Xiao Zhang, Christopher N. Morrison, Douglas J. Wiebe

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Our understanding of how community-level context impacts care of persons living with HIV (PLWH), including antiretroviral therapy (ART) adherence and retention in care, is limited. The objective of this study was to characterize the activity spaces of PLWH from an urban area in Southeastern U.S., where the epidemic is among the nation's highest, and to examine how such activity spaces are associated with daily mood and health behaviors. In this small, pilot study, 11 participants were tracked with a global positioning system (GPS)-enabled application on their smartphones for 2 weeks. Activity spaces were created by connecting GPS points sequentially and adding buffers. Contextual exposure data (e.g., alcohol outlets) were connected to activity spaces. Participants also completed daily diary entry through texts 3 times per day regarding outcomes of substance use behaviors, mood, and medication adherence. This yielded a total of 18,007 GPS polyline records that we aggregated into 258 person-days that captured discrete occasions of exposure to contextual factors and subjects’ behaviors and moods. On average, the participants spent 19% of their time awake during the 2-week periods in their residential census tract. Exposure to social and built environment factors such as alcohol outlets was greater when participants were outside versus inside their residential census tract. Exposures on daily routes were also significantly associated with ART adherence, alcohol consumption, and mood. Findings suggest substantial differences between activity spaces and residential contexts. Activity spaces are relevant for PLWH and may impact HIV care and behavioral outcomes such as ART adherence and substance use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)236-241
Number of pages6
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Activity space
  • Adherence
  • Alcohol
  • Daily diary
  • GPS
  • HIV
  • Neighborhoods

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