Summer plans have been shaping up pretty well and were basically finalized after a preliminary meeting with the Department of Health in Tampa yesterday.
1) The VRACS dataset originally discussed is simply not going to work for my dissertation for a number of reasons - starting with the fact that it only kinda belongs to TGH and mostly belongs to some Indian researchers. Furthermore, the sample surveys were half-heartedly designed without adquete sampling theory applied and things are a bit slopply with the data itself. Finally, the sample size is only about 400 people - kinda small for a population based question. Anyway, I wanted things to be clean at every step along the way so that I didn't run into trouble somewhere deep down the line and deep in the summer, thus causing me to pull out and start over again (which is EXACTLY what happened last summer with the NHANES III and NHANES 1999-present series).
2) #1 is okay because things are coming together.
There are 2 models for writing a dissertation with the Michigan Anthro department. One models is traditional - you pick a topic, question, place - you go there, you do field work, you collect data, you come back, analyze data, and write it up. Another model is that you can throw together a string of 3 related published papers regarding some theme/question over a period of time.
Given my plans this summer, and the access I have to other data sets and populations, I believe that the latter may be the model I opt for in completing my dissertation.
3)Apparently the City of Tampa Department of Heath (DOH) is part of Tampa General Hospital and works closely with the Infectious Disease group - which I did not know but now makes total since because they are both public places and both deal with a lot of STD patients. Well, I was excited to learn that my summer contract with Infectious Disease allows me to also work with the DOH - therefore, I have some access to their data, clinic, and populations as well under the direction of Dr. H.
Yesterday, I met with the director, Dr. H and an epidemiologist Dr. G, to discuss the possibility of using an STD dataset collected in Tampa throughout the various DOH clinics. They were agreeble to this plan and had no problem checking this out a little bit. More specifically, we are having a meeting next week with some of the other epidemiologists at DOH regarding the data.
So why is an STD dataset so valuable to me?
4)I will also be working with the Hernando County Health Department with a group of HIV+ and at-risk for HIV adult men in Brooksville. The idea is to meet with social workers and public health officials to develop an education/policy initiative aimed at reducing HIV incidence amongst this population. See a theme developing? I do - and its quite appropriate for an anthropolgy dissertation using this population and the Tampa STD data.
HIV risk factors, socioeconomic status, population of people using Florida DOH clinicis.....its coming together - slowly.
The nice part about this is that a 3 paper model dissertation will allow a focus on the policy/prevention aspect, clinical aspect, and the data analysis of risk factors as well - getting at the problem from both ends (real people and real numbers, population and individual health care). Almost sounds like the kind of dissertation an MD-PhD student interested in population health and clinical care is supposed to be doing!