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      Adherence to HAART: A Systematic Review of Developed and Developing Nation Patient-Reported Barriers and Facilitators

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          Abstract

          Background

          Adherence to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) medication is the greatest patient-enabled predictor of treatment success and mortality for those who have access to drugs. We systematically reviewed the literature to determine patient-reported barriers and facilitators to adhering to antiretroviral therapy.

          Methods and Findings

          We examined both developed and developing nations. We searched the following databases: AMED (inception to June 2005), Campbell Collaboration (inception to June 2005), CinAhl (inception to June 2005), Cochrane Library (inception to June 2005), Embase (inception to June 2005), ERIC (inception to June 2005), MedLine (inception to June 2005), and NHS EED (inception to June 2005). We retrieved studies conducted in both developed and developing nation settings that examined barriers and facilitators addressing adherence. Both qualitative and quantitative studies were included. We independently, in duplicate, extracted data reported in qualitative studies addressing adherence. We then examined all quantitative studies addressing barriers and facilitators noted from the qualitative studies. In order to place the findings of the qualitative studies in a generalizable context, we meta-analyzed the surveys to determine a best estimate of the overall prevalence of issues. We included 37 qualitative studies and 47 studies using a quantitative methodology (surveys). Seventy-two studies (35 qualitative) were conducted in developed nations, while the remaining 12 (two qualitative) were conducted in developing nations. Important barriers reported in both economic settings included fear of disclosure, concomitant substance abuse, forgetfulness, suspicions of treatment, regimens that are too complicated, number of pills required, decreased quality of life, work and family responsibilities, falling asleep, and access to medication. Important facilitators reported by patients in developed nation settings included having a sense of self-worth, seeing positive effects of antiretrovirals, accepting their seropositivity, understanding the need for strict adherence, making use of reminder tools, and having a simple regimen. Among 37 separate meta-analyses examining the generalizability of these findings, we found large heterogeneity.

          Conclusions

          We found that important barriers to adherence are consistent across multiple settings and countries. Research is urgently needed to determine patient-important factors for adherence in developing world settings. Clinicians should use this information to engage in open discussion with patients to promote adherence and identify barriers and facilitators within their own populations.

          Abstract

          An analysis of qualitative and quantitative studies found consistent barriers to adherence to HIV therapy across multiple settings and countries, ranging from access to medication to problems with complicated regimens.

          Editors' Summary

          Background.

          The World Health Organization has estimated that in 2005, about 38 million people worldwide were living with HIV/AIDS; the mortality caused by HIV/AIDS is very high. Antiretroviral drugs are effective at controlling the disease and extending life span. However, it is important for people to stick to the drug regimens exactly in order to keep levels of HIV low, prevent it from becoming resistant to drugs, and stop the illness from progressing. However, many people find it very difficult to take antiretroviral drugs precisely as they should. There is already some evidence from research studies on the reasons why this is the case. There are two different research approaches taken by these studies: “qualitative” methods, which try to find out about attitudes and behaviors using focus groups, interviews, or other techniques; and “quantitative” methods, which try to find out about peoples' opinions and experience using surveys with set questions for the participants to answer, and then count the different responses.

          Why Was This Study Done?

          The investigators wanted to put together all of the available evidence from published research studies (called doing a “systematic review”) on which factors affected people's adherence to antiretroviral drugs. They wanted to do a systematic review because it is thought to be a very rigorous way of appraising all the available evidence (although there is considerable debate about the value of using such a method to analyze the results of qualitative research).

          What Did the Researchers Do and Find?

          The study team searched biomedical literature databases as well as conference abstracts and research registries using a defined set of search queries. They screened all the scientific papers they found; those reporting results of original research into factors affecting antiretroviral adherence were then analyzed in more detail. 84 relevant studies were identified, of which 37 used “qualitative” methods (focus groups, interviews, open-ended questioning) and 47 used “quantitative” methods (surveys). Most of these studies had been carried out in the developed world. Then, the researchers extracted the factors affecting adherence from the original studies, which could be either “positive” factors (helping adherence) or “negative” ones (making adherence more difficult). They classified the factors into four key themes: “patient related” (e.g., seeing positive results, fear of disclosure, being depressed); “beliefs about medication” (e.g., faith in how well the drugs worked, side effects); “daily schedules” (e.g., using reminder tools, disruptions to routine); and “interpersonal relationships” (e.g., trusting relations with health-care provider; social isolation).

            Many barriers to adherence were common to both developed and developing settings. Some factors were unique to the studies conducted in the developing world, such as financial constraints and problems with traveling to get access to treatment. Fear of disclosure was an important barrier identified in many of the studies.

          What Do These Findings Mean?

          The researchers combined the results of many different studies and identified factors that help or obstruct adherence to antiretroviral treatment. By identifying influences common to the different settings, greater weight can be placed on the factors that were identified. Only 12 of the studies included in this research were from the developing world, where the majority of HIV/AIDS patients live; hence more work is needed to examine and address the factors influencing antiretroviral adherence in these parts of the world. This study provides researchers and health policy makers with a starting point for changes that might help to ensure greater adherence to antiretroviral treatment.

          Additional Information.

          Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030438.

          Related collections

          Most cited references 111

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          Quantifying heterogeneity in a meta-analysis.

          The extent of heterogeneity in a meta-analysis partly determines the difficulty in drawing overall conclusions. This extent may be measured by estimating a between-study variance, but interpretation is then specific to a particular treatment effect metric. A test for the existence of heterogeneity exists, but depends on the number of studies in the meta-analysis. We develop measures of the impact of heterogeneity on a meta-analysis, from mathematical criteria, that are independent of the number of studies and the treatment effect metric. We derive and propose three suitable statistics: H is the square root of the chi2 heterogeneity statistic divided by its degrees of freedom; R is the ratio of the standard error of the underlying mean from a random effects meta-analysis to the standard error of a fixed effect meta-analytic estimate, and I2 is a transformation of (H) that describes the proportion of total variation in study estimates that is due to heterogeneity. We discuss interpretation, interval estimates and other properties of these measures and examine them in five example data sets showing different amounts of heterogeneity. We conclude that H and I2, which can usually be calculated for published meta-analyses, are particularly useful summaries of the impact of heterogeneity. One or both should be presented in published meta-analyses in preference to the test for heterogeneity. Copyright 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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            Meta-analysis in clinical trials.

            This paper examines eight published reviews each reporting results from several related trials. Each review pools the results from the relevant trials in order to evaluate the efficacy of a certain treatment for a specified medical condition. These reviews lack consistent assessment of homogeneity of treatment effect before pooling. We discuss a random effects approach to combining evidence from a series of experiments comparing two treatments. This approach incorporates the heterogeneity of effects in the analysis of the overall treatment efficacy. The model can be extended to include relevant covariates which would reduce the heterogeneity and allow for more specific therapeutic recommendations. We suggest a simple noniterative procedure for characterizing the distribution of treatment effects in a series of studies.
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              Adherence to protease inhibitor therapy and outcomes in patients with HIV infection.

              Combination antiretroviral therapy with protease inhibitors has transformed HIV infection from a terminal condition into one that is manageable. However, the complexity of regimens makes adherence to therapy difficult. To assess the effects of different levels of adherence to therapy on virologic, immunologic, and clinical outcome; to determine modifiable conditions associated with suboptimal adherence; and to determine how well clinicians predict patient adherence. Prospective, observational study. HIV clinics in a Veterans Affairs medical center and a university medical center. 99 HIV-infected patients who were prescribed a protease inhibitor and who neither used a medication organizer nor received their medications in an observed setting (such as a jail or nursing home). Adherence was measured by using a microelectronic monitoring system. The adherence rate was calculated as the number of doses taken divided by the number prescribed. Patients were followed for a median of 6 months (range, 3 to 15 months). During the study period, 45,397 doses of protease inhibitor were monitored in 81 evaluable patients. Adherence was significantly associated with successful virologic outcome (P < 0.001) and increase in CD4 lymphocyte count (P = 0.006). Virologic failure was documented in 22% of patients with adherence of 95% or greater, 61% of those with 80% to 94.9% adherence, and 80% of those with less than 80% adherence. Patients with adherence of 95% or greater had fewer days in the hospital (2.6 days per 1000 days of follow-up) than those with less than 95% adherence (12.9 days per 1000 days of follow-up; P = 0.001). No opportunistic infections or deaths occurred in patients with 95% or greater adherence. Active psychiatric illness was an independent risk factor for adherence less than 95% (P = 0.04). Physicians predicted adherence incorrectly for 41% of patients, and clinic nurses predicted it incorrectly for 30% of patients. Adherence to protease inhibitor therapy of 95% or greater optimized virologic outcome for patients with HIV infection. Diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric illness should be further investigated as a means to improve adherence to therapy.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Role: Academic Editor
                Journal
                PLoS Med
                pmed
                PLoS Medicine
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                1549-1277
                1549-1676
                November 2006
                21 November 2006
                : 3
                : 11
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Centre for International Health and Human Rights Studies, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
                [2 ]Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America
                [3 ]San Francisco General Hospital, AIDS Division, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California, United States of America
                [4 ]BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
                [5 ]Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, North York, Ontario, Canada
                [6 ]Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
                [7 ]Evidence for Population Health Unit, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom
                [8 ]Center for International Health and Development, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America
                [9 ]Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
                University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
                Author notes
                * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: millsej@ 123456univmail.cis.mcmaster.ca
                Article
                05-PLME-RA-0713R3 plme-03-11-08
                10.1371/journal.pmed.0030438
                1637123
                17121449
                Copyright: © 2006 Mills et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
                Counts
                Pages: 26
                Categories
                Research Article
                Infectious Diseases
                Science Policy
                HIV/AIDS
                Statistics
                HIV Infection/AIDS
                Resource Allocation and Rationing
                Custom metadata
                Mills EJ, Nachega JB, Bangsberg DR, Singh S, Rachlis B, et al. (2006) Adherence to HAART: A systematic review of developed and developing nation patient-reported barriers and facilitators. PLoS Med 3(11): e438. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0030438

                Medicine

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