Veena Pillai, MBBS

GHES LMIC Fellow 2015-2016

Home Institution: University of Malaya
US Institution: Yale University

Project Title:  A Health Needs Assessment in a Women’s Prison in Klang Valley, Malaysia

Research with incarcerated persons living with HIV (PLWH) in Malaysia has generated important new insights about the health needs of male prisoners and the efficacy of interventions to improve their adherence to methadone maintenance therapy. To date, however, few studies have assessed disease burden or health needs of female prison inmates in Malaysia, who are likely to have different health needs and respond differently to interventions. A comprehensive health needs assessment is needed to determine the health services that are most appropriate for this population.

In collaboration with the Centre of Excellence for Research in AIDS (CERiA) at the University of Malaya, I will conduct a mixed method study to (1) describe prevalence and correlates of sexually transmitted infections, mental illness, substance use disorders, and intimate partner violence among women incarcerated in a large Malaysian prison; and (2). In phase 1, I will recruit a random sample of female prisoners and use standardized diagnostic tests and a structured questionnaire to collect data about disease prevalence and risk behaviors. In phase 2, I will use maximum variation sampling to recruit a subset (~30-45 participants) who will be invited to participate in semi-structured voice-recorded interviews concerning their perceptions and expectations of health services that will be analyzed using a grounded-theory approach. During Phase 2 I will also include a feasibility assessment in the form of focus group discussions involving stakeholders, for an evidence based intervention (EBI) that will be chosen based on the results of the Phase 1 study.