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​Pitt Nurse Researcher Receives Grant for Study on Adherence to Antiretroviral Medications in Patients With HIV

PITTSBURGH, December 23, 1998 — Judith Erlen, Ph.D., R.N., associate professor of nursing in the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Nursing, and associate director of the Center for Research in Chronic Disorders, has received a grant totaling more than $960,000 from the National Institute of Nursing Research for her four-and-one-half year study on medication adherence in patients with HIV infection.

For her one-of-a-kind research, Dr. Erlen wants to determine whether a habit-training and problem-solving intervention will enhance adherence to antiretroviral therapy drugs that are used to decrease viral load and increase CD4 T-cell counts, and whether this will have any impact on patients’ quality of life.

"In some patients infected with HIV, their condition worsens because they may not be adhering to their specific medication regimen," Dr. Erlen explained. "As part of this study, we will examine not only their adherence, but factors contributing to adherence, such as social support, problem-solving mechanisms, side-effect management, the patients’ daily routines and how to fit their medication schedule into that routine."

Dr. Erlen is conducting a randomized clinical trial comparing two groups, each consisting of 110 patients. One group will receive their usual care and a 12-week telephone intervention designed to assist them to take their medications correctly. This will be followed by 12 weeks of maintenance and monitoring. Nurses making the telephone calls will talk with the patients about a particular topic related to adherence each week. These topics range from making sure the patients have an understanding of the medications they are taking to managing side effects to developing strategies that will help remind them when to take their medications. Patients also will be asked to think about what they do each day and keep a diary of the day’s events. The other group of 110 patients will receive only their usual care.

"By conducting such a study, we hope to demonstrate that by adhering to their medications, patients can both prolong their life and enhance the quality of life," Dr. Erlen said.

 

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