Perceptions of HIV infected patients on the use of cell phone as a tool to support their antiretroviral adherence; a cross-sectional study in a large referral hospital in Kenya

Florence Kinyua, Michael Kiptoo, Gideon Kikuvi, Joseph Mutai, Adrienne F A Meyers, Peter Muiruri, Elijah Songok
BMC Public Health 2013, 13: 987

BACKGROUND: Clinical trials were conducted to assess the feasibility of using a cell phone text messaging-based system to follow up Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infected patients on antiretroviral (ARTs) and assess for improved adherence to their medication. However there is need to evaluate the perceptions of the HIV infected patients towards the use of these cell phones in an effort to better aid in the clinical management of their HIV infection. The objective of this study was therefore to determine the perceptions of HIV infected patients on the use of cell phone text messaging as a tool to support adherence to their ART medication.

METHODS: A cross sectional survey was conducted among patients receiving Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy (HAART) at the Kenyatta National Hospital Comprehensive Care Clinic in Nairobi between May and July, 2011. Pre-tested questionnaires were used to collect the socio-demographic and perceptions data. The recruitment of the participants was done using the random probability sampling method and statistical analysis of data performed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 16.0.

RESULTS: A total of 500 HIV infected patients (Male-107, Female-307) aged 19-72 years were interviewed. The majority of individuals (99%) had access to cell phones and 99% of the HIV infected patients interviewed supported the idea of cell phone use in management of their HIV infection. A large proportion (46%) claimed that they needed cell phone access for medical advice and guidance on factors that hinder their adherence to medication and only 3% of them needed it as a reminder to take their drugs. The majority (72%) preferred calling the healthcare provider with their own phones for convenience and confidential purposes with only 0.4% preferring to be called or texted by the health care provider. Most (94%), especially the older patients, had no problem with their confidentiality being infringed in the process of the conversation as per the bivariate analysis results.

CONCLUSION: Cell phone communications are acceptable and in fact preferable over cell phone reminders.

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