BACKGROUND Physicians' limited knowledge of patients' antiretroviral adherence may reduce their ability to perform effective adherence counseling. METHODS We conducted a randomized, cross-over study of an intervention to improve physicians' knowledge of patients' antiretroviral adherence. The intervention was a report given to the physician before a routine office visit that included data on Medication Event Monitoring System and self-reported data on antiretroviral adherence, patients' beliefs about antiretroviral therapy, reasons for missed doses, alcohol and drug use, and depression. We audio recorded 1 intervention and 1 control visit for each patient to analyze differences in adherence-related dialogue. RESULTS One hundred fifty-six patients were randomized, and 106 completed all 5 study visits. Paired audio recorded visits were available for 58 patients. Using a linear regression model that adjusted for site and baseline Medication Event Monitoring System adherence, adherence after intervention visits did not differ significantly from control visits (2.0% higher, P = 0.31, 95% confidence interval: -1.95% to 5.9%). There was a trend toward more total adherence-related utterances (median of 76 vs. 49.5, P = 0.07) and a significant increase in utterances about the current regimen (median of 51.5 vs. 32.5, P = 0.0002) in intervention compared with control visits. However, less than 10% of adherence-related utterances were classified as "problem solving" in content, and one third of physicians' problem-solving utterances were directive in nature. CONCLUSIONS Receipt of a detailed report before clinic visits containing data about adherence and other factors did not improve patients' antiretroviral adherence. Analyses of patient-provider dialogue suggests that providers who care for persons with HIV may benefit from training in adherence counseling techniques.
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