Is the quality of the patient-provider relationship associated with better adherence and health outcomes for patients with HIV?

  • Mary Catherine Beach
  • Jeanne Keruly
  • Richard D. Moore
Populations At Risk

DOI: 10.1111/j.1525-1497.2006.00399.x

Cite this article as:
Beach, M.C., Keruly, J. & Moore, R.D. J Gen Intern Med (2006) 21: 661. doi:10.1111/j.1525-1497.2006.00399.x


PURPOSE: Patient-centeredness, originally defined as understanding each patient as a unique person, is widely considered the standard for high-quality interpersonal care. The purpose of our study was to examine the association between patient perception of being “known as a person” and receipt of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), adherence to HAART, and health outcomes among patients with HIV.

STUDY DESIGN: Cross-sectional analysis.

SUBJECTS: One thousand seven hundred and forty-three patients with HIV.

MEASUREMENTS: Patient reports that their HIV provider “knows me as a person” and 3 outcomes: receipt of HAART, adherence to HAART, and undetectable serum HIV RNA.

RESULTS: Patients who reported that their provider knows them “as a person” were more likely to receive HAART (60% vs 47%, P<.001), be adherent to HAART (76% vs 67%, P=.007), and have undetectable serum HIV RNA (49% vs 39%, P<.001). Patients who reported their provider knows them “as a person” were also older (mean 38.0 vs 36.6 years, P<.001), reported higher quality-of-life (mean LASA score 71.1 vs 64.8, P<.001), had been followed in clinic longer (mean 64.4 vs 61.7 months, P=.008), missed fewer appointments (mean proportion missed appointments 0.124 vs 0.144, P<.001), reported more positive beliefs about HAART therapy (39% vs 28% strongly believed HIV medications could help them live longer, P<.008), reported less social stress (50% vs 62% did not eat regular meals, P<.001) and were less likely to use illicit drugs or alcohol (22% vs 33% used drugs, P<.001; 42% vs 53% used alcohol, P<.001). Controlling for patient age, sex, race/ethnicity, quality-of-life, length of time in clinic, missed appointments, health beliefs, social stress, and illicit drug and alcohol use, patients who reported their provider knows them “as a person” had higher odds of receiving HAART (odds ratio [OR] 1.41, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.19 to 1.65), adhering to HAART (OR 1.33, 95% CI 1.02 to 1.72), and having undetectable serum HIV RNA (1.20, 95% CI 1.02 to 1.41).

CONCLUSIONS: We found that a single item measuring the essence of patient-centeredness—the patients’ perception of being “known as a person”—is significantly and independently associated with receiving HAART, adhering to HAART, and having undetectable serum HIV RNA. These results support the hypothesis that the quality of patient-physician relationship is directly related to the health of patients.

Key words

patient-physician relations patient-centeredness HIV, HAART adherence quality of care 

Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mary Catherine Beach
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Jeanne Keruly
    • 1
  • Richard D. Moore
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of MedicineJohns Hopkins University School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Phoebe R. Bermon Bioethics InstituteJohns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.Department of Health Policy and ManagementJohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA
  4. 4.Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology, and Clinical ResearchJohns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA
  5. 5.Department of EpidemiologyJohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA
  6. 6.Johns Hopkins University School of MedicineBaltimore

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