Electronic health interventions to improve adherence to antiretroviral therapy in people living With HIV: Systematic review and meta-analysis


BACKGROUND: Electronic health (eHealth) is increasingly used for self-management and service delivery of HIV-related diseases. With the publication of studies increasingly focusing on antiretroviral therapy (ART) adherence, this makes it possible to quantitatively and systematically assess the effectiveness and feasibility of eHealth interventions. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this review was to explore the effectiveness of eHealth interventions on improving ART adherence in people living with HIV. The effects of different intervention characteristics, participant characteristics, and study characteristics were also assessed. METHODS: We systematically searched MEDLINE (via PubMed), EMBASE, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and 3 conference abstract databases using search terms related to HIV, ART, adherence, and eHealth interventions. We independently screened the studies, extracted the data, and assessed the study quality and then compared the information in pairs. Articles published in English that used randomized controlled trials to assess eHealth interventions to improve ART adherence of people living with HIV were identified. We extracted the data including study characteristics, participant characteristics, intervention characteristics, and outcome measures. The Cochrane risk-of-bias tool was used to assess the risk of bias and study overall quality. Odds ratios, Cohen d, and their 95% CIs were estimated using random-effects models. We also performed multiple subgroup analyses and sensitivity analyses to define any sources of heterogeneity. RESULTS: Among 3941 articles identified, a total of 19 studies (including 21 trials) met the inclusion criteria. We found 8 trials from high-income countries and 13 trials from low- and middle-income countries. Furthermore, at baseline, the health status of participants in 14 trials was healthy. Of the trials included, 7 of 21 used personality content, 12 of 21 used a 2-way communication strategy, and 7 of 21 used medical content. In the pooled analysis of 3937 participants (mean age: 35 years; 47.16%, 1857/3937 females), eHealth interventions significantly improved the ART adherence of people living with HIV (pooled Cohen d=0.25; 95% CI 0.05 to 0.46; P=.01). The interventions were also correlated with improved biochemical outcomes reported by 11 trials (pooled Cohen d=0.25; 95% CI 0.11 to 0.38; P<.001). The effect was sensitive to sample size (Q=5.56; P=.02) and study duration (Q=8.89; P=.003), but it could not be explained by other moderators. The primary meta-analysis result was stable in the 3 sensitivity analyses. CONCLUSIONS: Some of the eHealth interventions may be used as an effective method to increase the ART adherence of people living with HIV. Considering that most of the trials included a small sample size and were conducted for a short duration, these results should be interpreted with caution. Future studies need to determine the features of eHealth interventions to better improve ART adherence along with long-term effectiveness of interventions, effectiveness of real-time adherence monitoring, enhancement of study design, and influences on biochemical outcomes


Wang Z, Zhu Y, Cui L, Qu B




  • Population(s)
    • General HIV+ population
  • Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Treatment
  • Prevention
    • Education/media campaigns
  • Health Systems
    • Delivery arrangements


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