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Jahnavi Prabhala, BA


Job Title

Research Assistant II

Academic Rank

Staff/Research Assistant


Emergency Medicine


Jahnavi Prabhala, Tiffany R. Glynn, Simran S. Khanna, Mohammad Adrian Hasdianda, Jeremiah Tom, Krishna Ventakasubramanian, Arlen Dumas, Connal O’Cleirigh, Charlotte E. Goldfine, Peter R. Chai

Principal Investigator

Peter R Chai, Tiffany R. Glynn



Informing Acceptability and Feasibility of Digital Phenotyping for Personalized HIV Prevention among Marginalized Populations Presenting to the Emergency Department

Scientific Abstract

For marginalized populations impacted by HIV, alternative methods are needed to understand their complex HIV risk and design prevention interventions. Marginalized groups often face barriers in accessing ambulatory care, contributing to high utilization of drop-in care at emergency departments (ED). Therefore, EDs offer an important setting to reach high-risk patients using novel HIV prevention methods. Digital phenotyping via data collected from smartphones and wearable sensors could provide an innovative vehicle for examining complex HIV risk and delivering personalized prevention interventions. However, there is little published research evaluating the feasibility or acceptability of these methods. This study aimed to address this gap via a cross-sectional psychosocial assessment with a sample of N=85 ED patients with HIV risk. Findings suggest that digital phenotyping is potentially feasible, as 98% of the sample owns a smartphone and 98% carry their phone on person at all times. However, acceptability of such interventions is questionable due to unwillingness to share smartphone data with apps/third parties (49.4%) and concerns about data-sharing (76.5%). As marginalized populations report high rates of discrimination and mistrust in medical settings, technology-assisted HIV prevention may address their specific concerns and barriers through the ethical design of novel interventions that best meet their needs.

Lay Abstract

More effective HIV prevention and treatment methods are needed for marginalized individuals who experience complex HIV risk. These individuals tend to visit emergency departments frequently due to their lack of consistent or easy access to health care. Emergency departments are thus a unique place to provide proactive support to individuals at higher risk for HIV. Technologies like smartphones and wearable sensors could be helpful for such patients. These technologies collect health data that could help providers better understand patients’ HIV risk. In doing so, providers can personalize medical care to vulnerable patients’ needs. Given the lack of information on such methods, this study aims to learn more by surveying 85 emergency department patients with HIV risk. Survey results demonstrate that digital health interventions are likely feasible as most emergency department patients own smartphones (98%) and carry their phone in their pocket, belt holder, hand, or bag (98%). However, many patients are worried about the privacy of their health information, with some unwilling to share smartphone data with apps/third parties (49.4%) and others concerned about data-sharing with apps (76.5%). Therefore, this study demonstrates the need to better understand patients’ concerns to effectively use technology in HIV prevention and treatment.

Clinical Implications

This study provides important information about the feasibility of innovative digital health interventions for key HIV risk groups who present to the ED. The findings suggest careful consideration of protecting privacy to improve acceptability and utilization of digital phenotyping methods.