Participatory diagramming as a means to improve communication about sex in rural Zimbabwe: a pilot study

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    It is increasingly recognised that unequal gender relations and poor communication between men and women about sexual matters, play a central role in the rapid transmission of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. Analysis of how communication might practically be improved remains a critical area for investigation however. To this end a pilot study, conducted in January 1998 involving two all-female focus groups in two rural areas of Zimbabwe, explored the possibility of using 'participatory' methods and visual diagramming as a means to facilitate rural people's communication about issues of sexual health. While still provisional, the results hold considerable interest for future HIV/AIDS work in the region. As a research tool, diagramming provides richer, more nuanced data about sexual activity than wholly discursive focus groups. However, the technique also holds considerable potential for action research and positive interventions that seek to facilitate couples' more open communication and safer sexual decision making. The pilot established both that rural women were comfortable utilising the techniques and that they were prepared to use them to discuss the detail of their sex lives. The next and vital step, as participants themselves suggested, is to involve men in similar self-analytical activities. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1723-1741
    Number of pages19
    JournalSocial Science and Medicine
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2000


    • sexual behaviour
    • HIV
    • gender
    • Africa
    • participatory
    • AIDS
    • WOMEN
    • HEALTH


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