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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Archival Content: 1999-2005

Training Doing the Work

Peer-Driven Intervention (PDI)

Key Points
 Overview
 How did PDI evolve?
 How is PDI different?
 PDI's advantages
 PDI research
 More information

Overview
PDI is an innovative social network model in which program staff encourage IDUs to play an active role in outreach. These peers receive small sums of money in return for locating and recruiting their peers to interventions. They also provide education and information and conduct follow-up to help peers obtain services and treatment. They work closely with health educators who are trained to conduct HIV testing and refer users to health care and other services.

How did PDI evolve from traditional outreach work?

In the traditional outreach model, an organization’s paid staff members—often trusted community members or former drug users—are the outreach workers. Studies conducted during the 1980s and 1990s showed that IDUs often help these outreach staff carry out their prevention work. IDUs help introduce the outreach workers to new communities and distribute prevention materials. They also help outreach workers locate very high-risk, hard-to-reach injectors.

In the past 10 years, this involvement by IDUs has led to the development of a new outreach model, called peer-driven intervention (PDI). This innovative social network model relies entirely on IDUs to carry out the major outreach functions. IDU outreach workers locate their peers, provide education and information, and help peers obtain services and treatment. The IDUs work closely with health educators who are trained to conduct HIV testing and refer users to health care and other services.

How is PDI different from traditional outreach?

PDI differs from other outreach models because the IDU workers are paid a small sum for each peer they recruit. This is the way it works: Each IDU worker is offered 2-3 coupons for use in locating and educating drug-using peers and recruiting them to come to a storefront HIV prevention facility. When the peers go to the storefront, they turn in their coupons and are given a knowledge test to see how well they were educated by the IDU workers. The worker is paid a small sum of money for each peer they successfully educate and recruit to the storefront. The peers who come to the storefront then become IDU workers and are offered 2-3 coupons to educate and recruit other peers.

What are PDI’s main advantages?

  • Because each IDU worker recruits several peers who then recruit other peers, PDI can reach a large and diverse group of IDUs who might not be reached by traditional outreach methods. Example: 4 IDUs who get 3 coupons each can recruit 12 peers. If those 12 peers get 3 coupons each, they can recruit 36 peers, and so on.
  • Getting money for each successfully educated and recruited peer is strong motivation for IDUs to reach out to their own peers and spread prevention messages.
  • Repeating HIV education messages to several peers helps IDUs become more knowledgeable about HIV risk and prevention. Involving IDUs in prevention work also helps them reduce their own HIV risk behaviors.
  • Because IDUs in the PDI model are working “on commission” rather than on a salary, PDI can be much less expensive than traditional outreach.

What does research show about PDI?

A small number of studies have shown that PDI can reach more drug users than traditional outreach at less cost and that it can reduce high-risk behaviors and improve HIV knowledge among IDUs.

Researchers are continuing to test and refine the model in a variety of settings here in the U.S. and in other countries. This research and continued use in communities will help reinforce these initial findings.

For more information

  • Broadhead RS, Heckathorn DD, Altice FL , van Hulst Y, Carbone M, Friedland GH, O’Connor PG, Selwyn PA. Increasing drug users’ adherence to HIV treatment: results of a peer-driven intervention feasibility study. Social Science and Medicine 2002;55(2):235-246.
  • Broadhead R, Heckathorn DD, Weakliem D, Anthony D, Madray H, Mills R, Hughes J. Harnessing peer networks as an instrument for AIDS prevention: results from a peer-driven intervention (PDF). Public Health Reports 1998;113(Suppl 1):42-57.
  • Slide sets (in development):
    • Introduction to PDI is a presentation describing a PDI project in Vietnam .
    • Teamwork in Running a PDI provides useful “do’s and don’ts” tips on managing a PDI project.
    • Supervising PDI Staff provides useful “do’s and don’ts” tips on working with the staff of a PDI project.
    • Working with IDUs provides useful “do’s and don’ts” tips on working with drug users, the key element of a PDI project.

 

This CDC Web site is no longer being reviewed or updated and thus is no longer kept current. This site remains to assist researchers or others needing historical content.

   
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