The Chinese Life-Steps Program: A Cultural Adaptation of a Cognitive-Behavioral Intervention to Enhance HIV Medication Adherence

Cogn Behav Pract. 2013 May;20(2):202-212. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpra.2012.05.005.


China is considered to be the new frontier of the global AIDS pandemic. Although effective treatment for HIV is becoming widely available in China, adherence to treatment remains a challenge. This study aimed to adapt an intervention promoting HIV-medication adherence-favorably evaluated in the West-for Chinese HIV-positive patients. The adaptation process was theory-driven and covered several key issues of cultural adaptation. We considered the importance of interpersonal relationships and family in China and cultural notions of health. Using an evidence-based treatment protocol originally designed for Western HIV-positive patients, we developed an 11-step Chinese Life-Steps program with an additional culture-specific intervention option. We describe in detail how the cultural elements were incorporated into the intervention and put into practice at each stage. Clinical considerations are also outlined and followed by two case examples that are provided to illustrate our application of the intervention. Finally, we discuss practical and research issues and limitations emerging from our field experiments in a HIV clinic in Beijing. The intervention was tailored to address both universal and culturally specific barriers to adherence and is readily applicable to generalized clinical settings. This evidence-based intervention provides a case example of the process of adapting behavioral interventions to culturally diverse communities with limited resources.

Keywords: HIV/AIDS; Life-Steps; cultural adaptation; evidence-based practice.