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Open Access Highly Accessed Correspondence

Development of a nursing intervention to facilitate optimal antiretroviral-treatment taking among people living with HIV

Pilar Ramirez-Garcia1* and José Côté2

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Nursing, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada

2 Innovative Nursing Practice, CRCHUM, Faculty of Nursing, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada

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BMC Health Services Research 2009, 9:113  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-9-113

Published: 3 July 2009



Failure by a large portion of PLHIV to take optimally ARV treatment can have serious repercussions on their health. The absence of a systematic treatment-taking promotion program in Quebec prompted stakeholders to develop jointly a theory- and evidence-based nursing intervention to this end. This article describes the results of a collective effort by researchers, clinicians and PLHIV to share their knowledge and create an appropriate intervention.


Intervention mapping was used as the framework for developing the intervention. First, the target population and environmental conditions were analyzed and a literature review conducted to identify predictors of optimal treatment taking. The predictors to emerge were self-efficacy and attitudes. Performance objectives were subsequently defined and crossed-referenced with the predictors to develop a matrix of change objectives. Then, theories of self-efficacy and persuasion (the predictors to emerge from step 1), together with practical strategies derived from these theories, were used to design the intervention. Finally, the sequence and content of the intervention activities were defined and organized, and the documentary material designed.


The intervention involves an intensive, personalized follow-up over four direct-contact sessions, each lasting 45–75 minutes. Individuals are engaged in a learning process that leads to the development of skills to motivate themselves to follow the therapeutic plan properly, to overcome situations that make taking the antiretroviral medication difficult, to cope with side-effects, to relate to people in their social circle, and to deal with health professionals.


The intervention was validated by various health professionals and pre-tested with four PLHIV. Preliminary results support the suitability and viability of the intervention. A randomized trial is currently underway to verify the effectiveness of the intervention in promoting optimal antiretroviral treatment taking.