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Enhancing patient navigation to improve intervention session attendance and viral load suppression of persons with HIV and substance use: a secondary post hoc analysis of the Project HOPE study

Stitzer, Maxine; Matheson, Tim; Cunningham, Colin; Sorensen, James L.; Feaster, Daniel J.; Gooden, Lauren K.; Hammond, Alexis S.; Fitzsimons, Heather; Metsch, Lisa

Background: Interventions are needed to improve viral suppression rates among persons with HIV and substance use. A 3-arm randomized multi-site study (Metsch et al. in JAMA 316:156–70, 2016) was conducted to evaluate the effect on HIV outcomes of usual care referral to HIV and substance use services (N = 253) versus patient navigation delivered alone (PN: N = 266) or together with contingency management (PN + CM; N = 271) that provided financial incentives targeting potential behavioral mediators of viral load suppression. Aims: This secondary analysis evaluates the effects of financial incentives on attendance at PN sessions and the relationship between session attendance and viral load suppression at end of the intervention. Methods: Frequency of sessions attended was analyzed over time and by distribution of individual session attendance frequency (PN vs PN + CM). Percent virally suppressed (≤200 copies/mL) at 6 months was compared for low, medium and high rate attenders. In PN + CM a total of $220 could be earned for attendance at 11 PN sessions over the 6-month intervention with payments ranging from $10 to $30 under an escalating schedule. Results: The majority (74%) of PN-only participants attended 6 or more sessions but only 28% attended 10 or more and 16% attended all eleven sessions. In contrast, 90% of PN + CM attended 6 or more visits, 69% attended 10 or more and 57% attended all eleven sessions (attendance distribution χ2[11] = 105.81; p < .0001). Overall (PN and PN + CM participants combined) percent with viral load suppression at 6-months was 15, 38 and 54% among those who attended 0–5, 6–9 and 10–11 visits, respectively (χ2(2) = 39.07, p < .001). Conclusion: In this secondary post hoc analysis, contact with patient navigators was increased by attendance incentives. Higher rates of attendance at patient navigation sessions was associated with viral suppression at the 6-month follow-up assessment. Study results support use of attendance incentives to improve rates of contact between service providers and patients, particularly patients who are difficult to engage in care. Trial Registration clinicaltrials.govIdentifier: NCT01612169.


More Information

Published In
Addiction Science & Clinical Practice
Publisher DOI
1 - 6
Academic Units
Sociomedical Sciences


Keywords: HIV health care, HIV substance users, Patient navigation, Contingent incentives, Session attendance, Vial suppression

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