AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 141-150

First online:

Factors Influencing Medication Adherence Beliefs and Self-Efficacy in Persons Naive to Antiretroviral Therapy: A Multicenter, Cross-Sectional Study

  • Nancy R. ReynoldsAffiliated withOhio State University Email author 
  • , Marcia A. TestaAffiliated withHarvard School of Public Health
  • , Linda G. MarcAffiliated withHarvard School of Public Health
  • , Margaret A. ChesneyAffiliated withUniversity of California, San Francisco
  • , Judith L. NeidigAffiliated withOhio State University
  • , Scott R. SmithAffiliated withUniversity of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • , Stefano VellaAffiliated withIstituto Superiore di Sanita
  • , Gregory K. RobbinsAffiliated withMassachusetts General Hospital
  • , Protocol Teams of ACTG 384, ACTG 731, and A5031s

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


It is widely recognized that adherence to antiretroviral therapy is critical to long-term treatment success, yet rates of adherence to antiretroviral medications are frequently subtherapeutic. Beliefs about antiretroviral therapy and psychosocial characteristics of HIV-positive persons naive to therapy may influence early experience with antiretroviral medication adherence and therefore could be important when designing programs to improve adherence to antiretroviral therapy. As part of a multicenter AIDS Clinical Trial Group (ACTG 384) study, 980 antiretroviral-naive subjects (82% male, 47% White, median age 36 years, and median CD4 cell count 278 cells/mm3) completed a self-administered questionnaire prior to random treatment assignment of initial antiretroviral medications. Measures of symptom distress, general health and well-being, and personal and situational factors including demographic characteristics, social support, self-efficacy, depression, stress, and current adherence to (nonantiretroviral) medications were recorded. Associations among variables were explored using correlation and regression analyses. Beliefs about the importance of antiretroviral adherence and ability to take antiretroviral medications as directed (adherence self-efficacy) were generally positive. Fifty-six percent of the participants were “extremely sure” of their ability to take all medications as directed and 48% were “extremely sure” that antiretroviral nonadherence would cause resistance, but only 37% were as sure that antiretroviral therapy would benefit their health. Less-positive beliefs about antiretroviral therapy adherence were associated with greater stress, depression, and symptom distress. More-positive beliefs about antiretroviral therapy adherence were associated with better scores on health perception, functional health, social–emotional–cognitive function, social support, role function, younger age, and higher education (r values = 0.09–0.24, all p < .001). Among the subset of 325 participants reporting current use of medications (nonantiretrovirals) during the prior month, depression was the strongest correlate of nonadherence (r = 0.33, p < .001). The most common reasons for nonadherence to the medications were “simply forgot” (33%), “away from home” (27%), and “busy” (26%). In conclusion, in a large, multicenter survey, personal and situational factors, such as depression, stress, and lower education, were associated with less certainty about the potential for antiretroviral therapy effectiveness and one's perceived ability to adhere to therapy. Findings from these analyses suggest a role for baseline screening for adherence predictors and focused interventions to address modifiable factors placing persons at high risk for poor adherence prior to antiretroviral treatment initiation