In recent years, scaling up of antiretroviral therapy (ART) in resource-limited settings moved impressively towards universal access. Along with these achievements, public health HIV programs are facing a number of challenges including the support of patients on lifelong therapy and the prevention of temporary/permanent loss of patients in care. Understanding reasons for treatment interruption (TI) can inform strategies for improving drug adherence and retention in care.
To evaluate key characteristics of patients resuming ART after TI at the Lighthouse Clinic in Lilongwe, Malawi, and to identify their reasons for interrupting ART.
This study uses a mixed methods design to evaluate patients resuming ART after TI. We analysed an assessment form for patients with TI using pre-defined categories and a comments field to identify frequently stated reasons for TI. Additionally, we conducted 26 in-depth interviews to deepen our understanding of common reasons for TI. In-depth interviews also included the patients’ knowledge about ART and presence of social support systems. Qualitative data analysis was based on a thematic framework approach.
A total of 347 patients (58.2% female, average age 35.1±11.3 years) with TI were identified. Despite the presence of social support and sufficient knowledge of possible consequences of TI, all patients experienced situations that resulted in TI. Analysis of in-depth interviews led to new and distinct categories for TI. The most common reason for TI was travel (54.5%, n=80/147), which further differentiated into work- or family-related travel.
This research was supported by the UK Department for International Development’s Operational Research Capacity Building Programme led by the International Union Against TB and Lung Disease (The Union)
Julia Tabatabai, Ireen Namakhoma, Hannock Tweya, Sam Phiri, Paul Schnitzler, Florian Neuhann (2016). Understanding reasons for treatment interruption amongst patients on antiretroviral therapy – A qualitative study at the Lighthouse Clinic, Lilongwe, Malawi.
Global Health Action. 2014; 7: doi: 10.3402/gha.v7.24795
Understanding reasons for treatment interruption amongst patients on antiretroviral therapy – A qualitative study at the Lighthouse Clinic, Lilongwe, Malawi
Published 30 September 2014