Navigate Up

UPMC/University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

Patients and medical professionals may call 1-800-533-UPMC (8762) for more information.



​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.


UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences Supplemental content provided by Healthwise, Incorporated. To learn more, visit

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

Pittsburgh, PA, USA |