Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 83–88

Problem drinking and medication adherence among persons with HIV infection

  • Robert L. Cook
  • Susan M. Sereika
  • Susan C. Hunt
  • William C. Woodward
  • Judith A. Erlen
  • Joseph Conigliaro
Original Articles


OBJECTIVE: To examine the relation between problem drinking and medication adherence among persons with HIV infection.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey.

SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Two hundred twelve persons with HIV infection who visited 2 outpatient clinics between December 1997 and February 1998.

MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Nineteen percent of subjects reported problem drinking during the previous month, 14% missed at least 1 dose of medication within the previous 24 hours, and 30% did not take their medications as scheduled during the previous week. Problem drinkers were slightly more likely to report a missed dose (17% vs 12 %, P=.38) and significantly more likely to report taking medicines off schedule (45% vs 26%, P=.02). Among drinking subtypes, taking medications off schedule was significantly associated with both heavy drinking (high quantity/frequency) (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 4.70; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], 1.49 to 14.84; P<.05) and hazardous drinking (adjusted OR, 2.64; 95% CI, 1.07 to 6.53; P<.05). Problem drinkers were more likely to report missing medications because of forgetting (48% vs 35%, P=.10), running out of medications (15% vs 8%, P=.16), and consuming alcohol or drugs (26 % vs 3 %, P<.001).

CONCLUSION: Problem drinking is associated with decreased medication adherence, particularly with taking medications off schedule during the previous week. Clinicians should assess for alcohol problems, link alcohol use severity to potential adherence problems, and monitor outcomes in both alcohol consumption and medication adherence.

Key words

adherence alcohol HIV infection 


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Copyright information

© Blackwell Science Inc 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert L. Cook
    • 1
    • 2
  • Susan M. Sereika
    • 4
  • Susan C. Hunt
    • 2
  • William C. Woodward
    • 5
  • Judith A. Erlen
    • 4
  • Joseph Conigliaro
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.the Center for Research on Health CareUniversity of PittsburghPittsburgh
  2. 2.Division of General Internal MedicineUniversity of PittsburghPittsburgh
  3. 3.VA Pittsburgh Health Care SystemUniversity of PittsburghPittsburgh
  4. 4.the Center for Research in Chronic DisordersUniversity of PittsburghPittsburgh
  5. 5.Bornemann Internal MedicineReading
  6. 6.E820 UPMC MontefioreUniversity of Pittsburgh School of MedicinePittsburgh

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