2009, Number 5
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ABSTRACTIntroduction: HIV infection is a disease that demands a consistent and efficient practice of adherence behaviors related to antiretroviral treatment. However, research findings in the last few years have shown that psychological and social variables (e.g., depression, stress, low motivation, as well as little or no social support) interfere with the practice of those behaviors. This facilitates the clinical progression of the disease, and reduces the quality of life and survival time in people living with HIV.
The intersection area between psychology and health involves widely diverse theoretical models, including self-regulation, health beliefs, and the one linking information-motivation-behavior. Such models have sought to account for the way in which the addressed variables affect adherence behavior. While analyzing psychological factors, these models usually emphasize either cognitive concepts or adopt a more traditional stance such as relating adherence behavior to personality, motivation, behavioral skills and stress management. Although this diversity seems inclusive, it fails to integrate explanations on therapeutic adherence under a more comprehensive theoretical umbrella. Thus, the present study was conducted within the scope of an interactive-functional model which attempts to articulate the interaction of sets of biological and psychological variables along four phases. The first involves psychological processes and results variables; the second comprises the diagnostic of HIV infection and later development of other opportunistic diseases; the third contains two types of behavior: therapeutic adherence and disease-related behaviors; the fourth involves conventional biological indicators and health outcomes.
This model contrasts with others not only in the sense of proposing an inter-behavioral approach derived from Kantor’s work, including articulated behavioral and personality theories, but it also proposes an interactive and functional emphasis on analyzing those variables assumed to determine therapeutic adherence behaviors. Such variables subsume personality phenomena, behavioral competencies and motives to behave. Thus, the approach includes those consistent ways in which HIV-positive persons interact with stressrelated situations which contain unpredictable, ambiguous or uncertain stimulus signals and behavior consequences. The behavioral competencies category synthesizes what the patient knows on HIV, including those self-care actions that need to be taken efficiently. For instance, what is HIV-AIDS, what are the clinical stages of the infection, what medications help, how should they be used and, above all, why is so important to take medications in a consistent and efficient manner on the basis of the indications of the healthcare personnel. On the other hand, motives or motivation refer, in the traditional conception, to variables related to willing to act. It is said that a person is motivated to engage in therapeutic adherence behaviors when he/she is willing to behave accordingly, after having understood the relation between such behavior and some specific consequences. Such consequences may vary widely, ranging from interpersonal in nature, such as verbal praise or support from others, and intrinsic, such as self-perceived physical and psychological well-being.
Materials and method: A cross-sectional study was carried out in order to identify predictors of adherence behaviors related to antiretroviral treatment in a group of 68 persons living with HIV. Participants answered two self-administered questionnaires: i) psychological factors and adherence behaviors, and ii) stress-related situations in three modalities: decision-making, tolerance to ambiguity, and tolerance to frustration. Data analysis included univariate statistics, the Pearson’s x2 test, the T-test for independent samples, as well as a linear multiple regression analysis.
Results: Of the total of participants, 58 (85.3%) reported that they selfadministered their antiretroviral medication everyday of the last week, and 10 (14.7%) did it with some inconsistence. Differences were significant (x2 =33.882; p‹0.001); the T-test showed a significant difference among adherents and non-adherents in the motivation variable (t =-27.954; p‹0.001). Finally, the linear multiple regression analysis contributed as predictor of the adherence behaviors at variables like motivation (β=0.802; p‹0.001), as well as low stress-related situations in the modalities of decision-making (β=-0.268; p‹0.01) and tolerance to frustration (β=-0.280; p‹0.01), with the adjusted determination coefficient [adjusted R2]=0.629, thus explaining 62.9% of the total variance.
Discussion: The results of this study show that persons with HIV who are 100% adherent to antiretroviral medication are those who are clearly more motivated and are experiencing less stress-related to decision-making, as well as higher levels of tolerance to frustration.
These findings suggest that interventions aimed at improving the treatment of HIV-positive patients should expressly include components related to these factors. It seems especially relevant to consider two additional aspects: first, once psychological factors are identified and explained through research, they need to be translated into viable intervention strategies subject to systematic methodological evaluation. Second, interventions must be consistent with the theoretical assumptions underlying the model used so that those techniques designed or selected to establish adequate medication use and other adherence and wellbeing-inducing behaviors will actually result effective.
Given the context of the institutional treatment of this condition, it seems especially relevant to insure that such programs actually have an interdisciplinary character in order to facilitate and maintain therapeutic adherence. Such inter-professional collaboration is especially important in a public healthcare context in which resources, ranging all the way from facilities, equipment and caregiver salaries to the schooling of the patients, pose special challenges in places like Latin American countries, where real optimization can occur mainly through the quality of integrated professional performance. After all, the key healthcare ingredient in public health problems affecting ever-growing portions of the population, such as the HIV infection, remains the human being, i.e., actual persons with biological, psychological, and social functional components.
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