Self-report measures of antiretroviral therapy adherence: A review with recommendations for HIV research and clinical management

AIDS Behav. 2006 May;10(3):227-45. doi: 10.1007/s10461-006-9078-6.


A review of 77 studies employing self-report measures of antiretroviral adherence published 1/1996 through 8/2004 revealed great variety in adherence assessment item content, format, and response options. Recall periods ranged from 2 to 365 days (mode = 7 days). The most common cutoff for optimal adherence was 100% (21/48 studies, or 44%). In 27 of 34 recall periods (79%), self-reported adherence was associated with adherence as assessed with other indirect measures. Data from 57 of 67 recall periods (84%) indicated self-reported adherence was significantly associated with HIV-1 RNA viral load; in 16 of 26 (62%), it was associated with CD4 count. Clearly, the field would benefit from item standardization and a priori definitions and operationalizations of adherence. We conclude that even brief self-report measures of antiretroviral adherence can be robust, and recommend items and strategies for HIV research and clinical management.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Anti-Retroviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Disease Management*
  • Guidelines as Topic*
  • Humans
  • Patient Compliance / statistics & numerical data*
  • Self Disclosure*


  • Anti-Retroviral Agents