Diagnostic value of different adherence measures using electronic monitoring and virologic failure as reference standards

AIDS Patient Care STDS. 2008 Sep;22(9):735-43. doi: 10.1089/apc.2007.0229.


Nonadherence to antiretroviral therapy is a substantial problem in HIV and jeopardizes the success of treatment. Accurate measurement of nonadherence is therefore imperative for good clinical management but no gold standard has been agreed on yet. In a single-center prospective study nonadherence was assessed by electronic monitoring: percentage of doses missed and drug holidays and by three self reports: (1) a visual analogue scale (VAS): percentage of overall doses taken; (2) the Swiss HIV Cohort Study Adherence Questionnaire (SHCS-AQ): percentage of overall doses missed and drug holidays and (3) the European HIV Treatment Questionnaire (EHTQ): percentage of doses missed and drug holidays for each antiretroviral drug separately. Virologic failure prospectively assessed during 1 year, and electronic monitoring were used as reference standards. Using virologic failure as reference standard, the best results were for (1) the SHCS-AQ after electronic monitoring (sensitivity, 87.5%; specificity, 78.6%); (2) electronic monitoring (sensitivity, 75%; specificity, 85.6%), and (3) the VAS combined with the SHCS-AQ before electronic monitoring (sensitivity, 87.5%; specificity, 58.6%). The sensitivity of the complex EHTQ was less than 50%. Asking simple questions about doses taken or missed is more sensitive than complex questioning about each drug separately. Combining the VAS with the SHCS-AQ seems a feasible nonadherence measure for daily clinical practice. Self-reports perform better after electronic monitoring: their diagnostic value could be lower when given independently.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Retroviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Electronics / methods*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Netherlands
  • Pain Measurement
  • Reference Standards
  • Treatment Refusal / statistics & numerical data*


  • Anti-Retroviral Agents