Effect of a smartphone application incorporating personalized health-related imagery on adherence to antiretroviral therapy: a randomized clinical trial

AIDS Patient Care STDS. 2014 Nov;28(11):579-86. doi: 10.1089/apc.2014.0156. Epub 2014 Oct 7.


Poor adherence to combination antiretroviral therapy (ART) is a major global challenge. In this study we examined the efficacy of a smartphone application incorporating personalized health-related visual imagery that provided real-time information about the level of medication and the patient's level of immunoprotection, in order to improve adherence to ART. We randomized 28 people on ART to either a standard or augmented version of the smartphone application. The augmented version contained components that illustrated participants' current estimated plasma concentrations of antiretroviral drugs and the immune protection provided by ART. Adherence to ART was assessed at baseline and at 3 months using self-reported adherence, pharmacy dispensing records, and HIV viral load. Information was also collected on illness and medication beliefs and use of the application. Participants who received the augmented application showed a significantly higher level of self-reported adherence to ART at 3 months (p=0.03) and decreased viral load (p=0.023) as compared to individuals using the standard version. Greater usage of the extra components of the augmented application was associated with greater perceived understanding of HIV infection and increased perceived necessity for ART. Smartphone applications that incorporate personalized health-related visual imagery may have potential to improve adherence to ART.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-HIV Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cell Phone*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • HIV-1
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medication Adherence*
  • Middle Aged
  • New Zealand
  • Reminder Systems*
  • Self Report
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Viral Load


  • Anti-HIV Agents