Couple-focused Support to Improve HIV Medication Adherence

A Randomized Controlled Trial

Published in: AIDS, v. 19, no. 8, May 20, 2005, p. 807-814

Posted on on January 01, 2005

by Robert H. Remien, Michael J. Stirratt, Curtis Dolezal, Joanna S. Dognin, Glenn Wagner, Alex Carballo-Dieguez, Nabila El-Bassel, Tiffany M. Jung

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OBJECTIVE: To assess the efficacy of a couple-based intervention to improve medication-taking behavior in a clinic population with demonstrated adherence problems. Design: A randomized controlled trial (SMART Couples Study) conducted between August 2000 and January 2004. SETTING: Two HIV/AIDS outpatient clinics in New York City. PARTICIPANTS: Heterosexual and homosexual HIV-serodiscordant couples (n = 215) in which the HIV-seropositive partner had < 80% adherence at baseline. The sample was predominantly lower-income racial/ethnic minorities. INTERVENTION: Participants were randomly assigned to a four-session couple-focused adherence intervention or usual care. The intervention consisted of education about treatment and adherence, identifying adherence barriers, developing communication and problem-solving strategies, optimizing partner support, and building confidence for optimal adherence. OUTCOME MEASURES: Medication adherence at week 8 (2 weeks after the intervention) compared with baseline, assessed with a Medication Event Monitoring System cap. RESULTS: Intervention participants showed higher mean medication adherence at post-intervention when compared with controls whether adherence was defined as proportion of prescribed doses taken (76% versus 60%) or doses taken within specified time parameters (58% versus 35%). Also, participants in the intervention arm were significantly more likely to achieve high levels of adherence (> 80%, > 90%, or > 95%) when compared with controls. However, in most cases, effects diminished with time, as seen at follow-up at 3 and 6 months. CONCLUSION: The SMART Couples program significantly improved medication adherence over usual care, although the level of improved adherence, for many participants, was still suboptimal and the effect was attenuated over time.

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