Cognitive, academic, and behavioral correlates of medication adherence in children and adolescents with perinatally acquired HIV infection

J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2012 May;33(4):298-308. doi: 10.1097/DBP.0b013e31824bef47.


Objective: Medication adherence is critical to the success of antiretroviral therapies for children and youth with perinatally acquired HIV. Factors that influence successful transition of medication responsibility from caregivers to youth are poorly understood. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the relationship of medication adherence with demographic, cognitive, academic, and behavioral characteristics.

Methods: Randomly selected youth, N = 151, aged 8 to 18 years, completed cognitive and academic measures, and they and their caregivers completed questionnaires assessing behavior and emotional well-being. An announced pill count and questionnaires completed by youth and their caregivers were used to evaluate adherence.

Results: Of 151 participants, 100 completed all adherence measures. Adherence rates varied by assessment method. Nonadherence (<90%) by pill count was associated with older child age, greater youth responsibility for medications, and other demographic and medication regimen variables. Verbal impairment predicted better self-reported adherence and reading problems predicted better self- and caregiver-reported adherence. Youth-reported locus of control was associated with pill count nonadherence, and poor relationships with parents were associated with youth-reported nonadherence.

Conclusions: Consideration of youth cognitive or academic status may be helpful in evaluating medication adherence in patients with perinatally acquired HIV infection, particularly when using self- or caregiver reports to assess adherence. Vigilance for adherence problems is indicated when youth are older, responsible for medications, report poor caregiver relationships, and/or sense a lack of control over their lives.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Age Factors
  • Anti-Retroviral Agents / administration & dosage
  • Child
  • Child Behavior / psychology*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections / etiology
  • HIV Infections / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Male
  • Medication Adherence / psychology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Wechsler Scales


  • Anti-Retroviral Agents