Bridging the gap between individual-level risk for HIV and structural determinants: Using root cause analysis in strategic planning

Nancy Willard, Kate Chutuape, Stephanie Stines, Jonathan M. Ellen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


HIV prevention efforts have expanded beyond individual-level interventions to address structural determinants of risk. Coalitions have been an important vehicle for addressing similar intractable and deeply rooted health-related issues. A root cause analysis process may aid coalitions in identifying fundamental, structural-level contributors to risk and in identifying appropriate solutions. For this article, strategic plans for 13 coalitions were analyzed both before and after a root cause analysis approach was applied to determine the coalitions' strategic plans potential impact and comprehensiveness. After root cause analysis, strategic plans trended toward targeting policies and practices rather than on single agency programmatic changes. Plans expanded to target multiple sectors and several changes within sectors to penetrate deeply into a sector or system. Findings suggest that root cause analysis may be a viable tool to assist coalitions in identifying structural determinants and possible solutions for HIV risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-117
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Prevention and Intervention in the Community
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2012



  • HIV prevention
  • HIV risk factors
  • structural factors
  • structural interventions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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