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Patient Prefer Adherence. 2012;6:893-903. doi: 10.2147/PPA.S36912. Epub 2012 Dec 12.

Treatment acceptance and adherence in HIV disease: patient identity and the perceived impact of physician-patient communication.

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Department of Health Services Policy and Practice, Brown University, Providence, RI, USA.


Studies have found that physician-patient relationships and communication quality are related to medication adherence and outcomes in HIV care. Few qualitative studies exist of how people living with HIV experience clinical communication about their self-care behavior. Eight focus groups with people living with HIV in two US cities were conducted. Participants responded to a detailed discussion guide and to reenactments of actual physician-patient dialogue about antiretroviral adherence. The 82 participants were diverse in age, sex, and ethnicity. Most had been living with HIV for many years and had stable relationships with providers. They appreciated providers who knew and cared about their personal lives, who were clear and direct about instructions, and who were accessible. Most had struggled to overcome addiction, emotional turmoil, and/or denial before gaining control over their lives and becoming adherent to medications. They made little or no causal attribution for their transformation to any outside agency, including their providers. They generally saw medication adherence as a function of autonomous motivation. Successful coping with HIV with its prevalent behavioral comorbidities, stigma, and other challenges requires a transformation of identity and internalization of motivation to maintain health. Effective methods for clinicians to support such development are needed.


HIV; physician-patient communication; treatment adherence

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